E-commerce and online shopping have already disrupted the traditional path to purchase – that was just the first wave. Now throw in virtual reality, in-store robots and deliveries by drones and high street shopping is set to be a multi-sensory experience, limited only by the imagination of what’s possible.

But what will this future mean for the millions employed in the retail industry across Europe? How will the jobs of waiters, store cashiers and supervisors, and warehouse and logistics managers change? We look at six trends set to re-define the future of the retail industry — and how that will influence retail jobs and skills of the future.

1. Beacon networks

A beacon network, otherwise known as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) applications, allows any brand, retailer, app, or platform to understand exactly where a customer is in the physical brick-and-mortar shop, and then deliver a personalised experience to him or her.

Carrefour, the large French multinational, have officially started exploring beacon technology to make their communications more relevant to their customers. Carrefour has equipped 28 of its hypermarkets in Romania with beacon technology. This means a better shopping experience overall and individualised offers and discounts for loyal customers.

“Everything around us is telling us, or rather shouting, that the consumer has changed and therefore must change the way we enter into a relationship with the consumer” comments Fabrizio Travaglini, Executive Director Page Group Italy.

He adds that brands have now the possibility to understand the new consumers’ needs and interact with them using original, impactful and innovate tools; they have the possibility to educate to the digital transformation and influence their future behaviour.

“Thanks to this approach, retail companies can take the opportunity to “profile” and collect the main needs/preferences of their main consumers in order to empower. In the Italian retail market a typical example is Mcollective, a fashion brand that is leading this trend”

2. Augmented reality

French cosmetics giant L’Oreal is joining the augmented reality trend. L’Oreal has equipped its large team of European sales representatives with the augmented reality technology to go into retailers. Once there, retailers can see exactly how display stands, products and other merchandise will look, fully visualised in 3D.

 3. Virtual reality

IKEA, Sweden’s furniture retailer, is bringing virtual reality from fantasy to reality. Now customers can use their VR headsets to place themselves into rooms that have been fully rendered with IKEA furniture, which can even be customised (changing the colour of the kitchen cabinets, for example). In using virtual reality this way, customers can get more enhanced and realistic idea of what they’re house would look like with particular IKEA products giving a whole new meaning to try before you buy.

4. Land drones

One of Europe’s biggest takeaway fast food giants Just Eat, who recently went through a rebrand, have partnered with Starship Technologies. The aim is to get slow moving land drones to deliver your fast food to you. The drone is fixed with 6 cameras and GPS to navigate the streets of central London.

5. Drone delivery

Amazon recently successfully completed its first UK Prime Air drone delivery to two customers in Cambridge, UK. Although still only a preliminary trial, the company wishes to expand its drone deliver system and much sooner than originally anticipated.

6. Digital wallets

Digital payments are on the rise in Europe. Digital wallet capability is being expanded into over 20,000 retail stores, including E.Leclerc in Poland. Last year data-driven and loyal analytics company Aimia discovered that there is consumer appetite for digital wallets in Europe. 31% of Europeans now likely to use a digital wallet on their mobile device.

“We already notice impact of this innovation on the recruitment of candidates in retail”, says Minh Truong, Manager Sales & Marketing with Michael Page Belgium “We recruited, for example, many candidates for Worldline, a company that develops solutions for digital payment. I´m sure we will have more of these sort of clients in the near future.”

“We have been talking about digital payment since the start-up of the digital & new media practise in Italy. Plenty of opportunities for us here, starting from traditional market (Retailers and distribution) landing to innovative start-ups (Food and Flash Sales): comments Filippo Maggi, Executive Director Page Group Italy . The impact of this innovation is impressive, we are now dealing with customer on both ICT (cryptography and cashless system development) and digital business automation side.”

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