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2023 Retail Predictions From a Shopping Center Fortune Teller

Editor’s Note – This guest post is authored by Joe Skorupa, a consultant and editor at large for RIS News, an EnsembleIQ media portfolio. Joe has been frequently named as one of the top influencers in retail technology and is a regular speaker at industry conferences and webinars.

Industry predictions are ubiquitous at the end of the year. They arrive like migrating birds with perfect timing from retail consultants, analysts, speakers for hire and influencers. I get sucked into reading them every year like everyone else, even though I have long recognized their tried-and-true formula.

Predictions always match topics each expert has been talking about all year. They always foresee a bright future for bigger, smarter, faster things to come and offer success to those smart enough to seize opportunities. Few predictions ever forecast calamities unless the dire events support the adoption of bigger, smarter, faster solutions.

And then there’s the curious issue related to not mentioning previous predictions. They are probably worth tracking because they have major business implications, right? However, the formula doesn’t include looking back to assess accuracy because that’s so last year. It’s much better to look ahead.

Still, who can resist reading these click-bait stories? After indulging in a few recent ones, I took a break and went to my local Apple Store to buy a new phone. I was met at the door by a guy in blue who asked, “Why are you here?” I said, “Well, I’m a customer.” He asked, “What do you want?” I said, “I would like to buy something, a phone.” He said, “I will try to find you an appointment.” I said, “Good idea. Please, ‘try.’”

He took down my name and phone number and said, “You can come back later.” I thought, “Yes, I can. But will I?”

Namaste and the Fortune Teller

With time to kill, I walked into a gift shop next door called Namaste. A nice lady behind a counter wearing a sari said, “Hello” and smiled. I said, “Hello” and smiled back. Then she said, “We have a fortune teller here, and she can see you right away if you want your fortune told.”

Hmmm. Predictions were running through my head, and I began to wonder if a fortune teller could predict the future of retail.

Of course, this is not how it is usually done by the consultants, analysts, speakers for hire and influencers I have read over the years. These experts, I assume, do it by pooling a network of futurists to create a powerful hive mind of collective intelligence. Or, possibly, they feed proprietary research files – big data files – into an AI supercluster to crunch out predictions with extremely high degrees of probability.

But here, I thought, is another way. Maybe a fortune teller based in a shopping center – a cathedral of commerce – could provide a peek into the future of retail, one that others couldn’t see.

Suddenly, my phone began to buzz, telling me it was time for my Apple Store appointment. I said, “Please stay here. I will come right back. I want you to tell me about the future.” She looked at me gravely and nodded.

I ran out, bought an iPhone and rushed back to Namaste. I asked the fortune teller to place her hand over my new iPhone and tell me what she sees. I was hoping the aura from the shopping center and vibrations from the technology in my phone would comingle into visions as accurate as the predictions I had been reading.

And they were. Although English was not the fortune teller’s first language, and it was difficult to decipher her visions, here are some of the things she mentioned:

  • AI and machine learning
  • AR/VR and the Metaverse
  • Blockchain, Crypto and NFTs
  • Robotics and automation
  • Digital transformation
  • Sustainable and ethical
  • Volatility and disruption
  • Real-time transparency
  • Innovation and optimization
  • Hybrid and phygital

It was an amazing experience, and she had a great deal more to say, but my head was spinning with excitement. I thanked her and left knowing I had everything I needed to create my own predictions for 2023. All I had to do was fill in the blanks.