“The Power of Disruption” – that’s the theme of the 2018 Retail Forum, the biggest expo in the world. It’s a fitting nod to our high-tech ecosystem, as artificial intelligence and chatbots make fluid pairings. And pop-up shops and curbside pick-ups give new meaning to shopping with convenience.

So, exactly who’s blowing the lid off of smart innovation and investments?

Omni-channel Retailers

Amazon has a string of copycat competitors making their way up the food chain. Walmart recently bought out Internet companies, Jet.com and Bonobos. Meanwhile, PetSmart inked a deal to take over Chewy.com, a changing tide toward better inventory, online ordering and in-store pickups, meal prep kits, and quicker shopping for simplicity’s sake.

Also making an aggressive pass is retail giant, Target, who recently unveiled a 26,000 square foot “small format store.” As a bid to compete with Amazon’s warehouses, these mini-marts come stocked with the essentials in home, grocery, and beauty supplies. Leaping toward augmented reality, Target will soon let shoppers use their smartphones to simulate household goods in their home – even try on clothing, virtually [1].

According to Bank of America analyst, Justin Post, a global gross merchandise value in e-commerce sales will more than double from $2.1 trillion to $5 trillion in the next decade. Moreover, omni-channel sales for stores, like Walmart, will see a projected boost in the e-commerce market share from 5 percent to 6 percent in 2018 [2].

The Gig Economy

In 2017, venture investors deployed over $5 billion in real estate technology, more than 150 times the $33 million invested in 2010 [3]. Making the cut is WeWork, a global co-working space that bucks traditional office dynamics in favor of a “movement to humanize the workplace.”

While coworking hubs won’t be outnumbering U.S. office leases just yet, WeWork stands as the largest lessee of office space in Manhattan. The company has accrued large developers such as Hines and Equity Office, owned by the Blackstone Group, and is actively seeking coworking partners [4].

Nipping at the heels of this frontrunner is the NY-based, Industrious, who raised a reported $142 million upon their third round of fundraising [4]. Investors can find long-term viability as coworking firms typically lock into 10-year leases. And according to Emergent Research and GCUC, the industry is forecasted to grow to more than 6,000 sites by 2022.

Global Market Logistics

The fleet management and cargo industry are catching up with technological infrastructure too. As Amazon sprinkles customer-service centers into densely populated areas, many analysts see an outcry for trucking companies. The demand is simple: deliver smaller quantities of goods more frequently.

Trucking in the U.S. accounted for more than $726 billion in gross revenue in 2015, accounting for more than 10 billion tons of freight and employing 3.5 million drivers [5]. Additionally, a startup called Convoy, who raised $62 million last July, quickly forged support from the men themselves — Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. As track-and-trace and GPS monitoring make its way into the fold, investing in global distribution outlets isn’t lofty… it’s seemingly inevitable.

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[1] (Boyle, Bloomberg 2018)

[2] (Duggan, U.S. News & World Report 2018)

[3] (Snider & Harris, Forbes 2018)

[4] (Lash, U.S. News & World Report 2018)

[5] (Konrad, Forbes 2018)