Amazon or Alibaba will be the first retailer to master the virtual store, but it will be Amazon that will champion the use of augmented reality to change the in-home shopping experience, writes Forrester in a new report on the future of retail technology. That future — one shaped by retailers delivering greater customer value through digital experiences and not by reducing operating costs — will happen quicker than people expect; when it does, retail CIOs will be expected to act quickly.

Microsoft will play a significant role in altering the in-home experience. HoloLens will lead to in-home shopping apps that simplify the process and delight customers. Six of the top 15 brands that Forrester evaluated among 900 brands in its Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) are online retailers, and retail CIOs will need a business technology agenda that saves customers time, makes shopping easier, and enhances the pleasure of shopping.

To succeed, CIOs need time to design the business technology architecture and build the digital retail future. Among the technology challenges facing them: 

  • The greater connectivity needed in-store to support digital in-store experiences.
  • Systems of insights: the business discipline and technology to harness insights, consistently turn data into effective action, and provide rich data in real time to in-store apps.
  • A major application overhaul to support RFID traceability.

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