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A.I. and virtual reality may propel future of retail

Sharon Gaudin | Feb. 5, 2016
With new tech, see yourself on a mountain top from a store floor, or browse store aisles from your couch

"The cloud brings the ability to have access to an enormous set of resources that wouldn't have been economically viable for you to build yourself," Emmons said. "I can allow stores that are far from the mother ship to have access to technology without having it on-premise. It's really about centralization of technology."

He added that as retailers use more new technology, the cloud becomes more relevant. In fact, Emmons said emerging technology as a whole is becoming more relevant to the retail industry.

"I think technology has always had a role, but it was more of a supporting role," he said. "It wasn't really about customer-facing things at all. The importance of tech and the customer experience has definitely skyrocketed over the years."

Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst, said companies like Neiman Marcus and The North Face should be keeping an eye on new technologies as they arrive.

"A.I., virtual reality and the cloud will obviously play a big role in retail going forward," Kagan said. "Initially, the early adopters will have the advantage, but eventually these technologies are just going to be a basic cost of doing business."


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