I see the coming year as a key 12 months in the history of UK retail.

At a time when retail sales are unstable due to geopolitical issues and inflation is seeing price rises outstrip wage growth, it has never been more important for retailers to adapt and improve. The most important word in retail for 2018 should be innovation. Here are five things I see happening as retailers get smarter and use technology more effectively and efficiently. 1.The rise of the botsThere will be a proliferation of AI and chatbot adoption in retail as time-sensitive consumers want immediate answers to the more basic questions they wish to ask. This means positive perception of bots will increase in 2018 but the challenge for retailers is to consider how they personalise this tech to relate to their brand. When used for product searches, bots can generate greater levels of consumer data, which can then be harnessed to understand customers better. Analytics built around this give a true 360-degree picture of a consumer's habits wherever and however they shop. Retailers need to innovate at a pace relevant to younger generations. Doing so will ultimately drive top line numbers and gain them new custom. Written by: Mark King

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