The future of our shopping is Amazon-like? Is it over? Does it
mean the crash of the retail industry?
Philippe Letellier · 18 February 2019
Retailing is still a huge business with €2.56 trillion/year, but also a huge employer at
European level (accounting for almost 9% of all jobs). But retailers are under a huge pressure from
E-commerce with Amazon (2018 net revenue USD 232.88 billion) being the most aggressive but also the most
innovative. Must we accept this situation and consider the retail market the coal-mining industry of
today? It would have an incredible social and potentially political impact on our tired European
Perhaps the game is not over; we can react in Europe. This industry must react, especially when you see
that Amazon is considering, after a clear domination of E-commerce, its future is also in the physical
world. It is because some products require a physical presence and because the physical experience
remains a key value for customers. However, Amazon is not mimicking the old retail tradition but
reinventing it in its own way. The challenge facing this disrupted European industry is to enter the
world of innovation and digitalise their stores. Conservative companies will die when their innovative
counterparts will survive beside the new leaders of E-commerce.
In ITEA we have a small but very innovative and dedicated project working on this topic, SOLOMON, which
covers many sides of this revolution. It is inventing many new paths, e.g. to ensure a coherent online
offline experience, customer self-services on mobile devices such as self-payment, digital assistants,
and monitoring customer behaviour in the online store.
It uses modern technologies to speed up the evolution by creating an ontology to describe all the
interactions between the different stakeholders and developing a DSL (Domain Specific Language) to allow
the store manager to change the interaction quickly and easily using the previous ontology.
These new tools will be verified in three use cases:
- Micro Pop-up Store
- Mobile Assisted Smart Shopping
- Parking Assistance
GDPR puts physical stores and E-commerce back on the same level
The GDPR privacy legislation is sometimes felt as a constraint on European industry. In this case it must
be felt as a good shield for the customers first but also for the industry as it blocks some bad
behaviour that we could have observed with some E-commerce players. It is a way to put physical stores
and E-commerce back on the same level and it forces traditional retail players to remain in the trusted
zone with their customers. SOLOMON is thoroughly checking this dimension of privacy for all
developments. For example, using Solid, the new decentralised internet, and Solid POD where you put all
the information you are ready to share under your control (Solid POD is your own property).
Unity is Strength
If you are involved in the retail industry, I encourage you to contact the SOLOMON project leader Martin
Treiber (firstname.lastname@example.org) to check which future it is preparing. I
encourage you to test and learn. It is
the paradigm of the new digital industry. Consider this: if you want to ensure you have ‘The Solution’
from the beginning, you will be dead before it arises. This has already been seen in many industries
disrupted by digital actors, then today it is your turn to react. We need you!
If you have some innovative technologies for this retail market, make contact. Unity is Strength. Perhaps
you can join the project partners and prepare the next steps; there will certainly be future steps
because this industry is great and Europe needs it.
Smart Cities · Innovation · Market deployment · Business development · digital transition · Digital
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