Retail has been radically transformed by tech already. What’s next?

At CES 2016, Bloomberg’s Global Chief Revenue and Client Partnerships Officer Paul Caine led a revealing panel discussion on the future of tech and retail, exploring how new technologies will fit into consumer experiences – and therefore business plans. Caine sees a new world full potential: “I don’t believe technology is the death of [brick-and-mortar],” he observed. “It’s the evolution of everything.”


He was joined by leading industry disruptors, CMOs and experts including POPSUGAR Founder & CEO Brian Sugar, TPN Senior MD of Tech & Innovation Manolo Almagro, Pearle Vision VP Head of Marketing Doug Zarkin and top execs from OMD, EyeQ and PetSmart, in a conversation that covered how the retail industry is innovating with technology to help build relationships, make the consumer experience more valuable, and provide true personalization.


“People don’t want to be sold,” observed Caine, “but they want to buy.” Consumers expect seamless, relevant and delightful experience across all channels all the time – and the pace of innovation is accelerating as data increasingly allows brands to satisfy consumer intent.

In just one example, audiences are using screens across more devices and platforms than ever – multiplatform view time jumped from just 5% five years ago to nearly 30% in 2015. And new technologies are helping marketers understand the behaviors behind this data – because understanding what audiences are consuming, where, and when, makes interactions more meaningful.  Mobile consumers act differently from desktop consumers, or late-night consumers, social media consumers, high video watchers – or any other category savvy marketers can think of.

Top marketing executives have not been slow to appreciate that this applies to every business seeking to connect, not just retail. Recent forecasts estimate that CMOs will soon spend more on IT than their CIO counterparts, some $32 billion by 2018. To make that investment count, they’ll need to embrace new and experimental thinking to reach their key audiences.