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Top 3 retail automation technologies to watch

Despite slowing sales growth, US ecommerce sales will top $1 trillion for the first time this year. Our “Reimagining Retail” podcast team spoke about the latest ways retailers are trying to streamline their ecommerce operations.

Droning on. Though drone delivery technology is still in its early stages, it’s becoming a larger part of commerce quicker than expected, said our analyst Yory Wurmser.

  • UPS and Walmart are expanding their drone programs, while Alphabet’s Wing subsidiary is working with retailers on drone delivery.
  • “The average consumer is not going to get drone delivery this year or in 2023, but you’re going to see a lot of activity and excitement around it,” said Wurmser.

Better, faster, stronger. Fulfillment center automation isn’t anything new, but Wurmser predicts that the types of automation will become more sophisticated in the years to come.

  • Nearly half of fulfillment warehouses will be automated by 2024.
  • Evolving automation technologies will benefit the industry twofold: They will increase the speed of fulfillment while also addressing labor shortages.
  • “I think you’re going to start to see automation that replaces menial and dangerous jobs that warehouses have a hard time hiring for,” said Wurmser.

Breaking the code. Another existing technology that will evolve is QR codes.

  • About 89 million people will use QR codes this year, increasing to 102 million by 2026.
  • Wurmser says that QR codes will bring a more seamless form of commerce, especially in nonretail settings.

Listen to the full podcast.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.