Per the report, Retail Sales in Great Britain: March 2017 online sales (excluding automotive fuel) have increased year-on-year by 19.5%, accounting for approximately 15.5% of all retail spending; reflecting an average weekly spend of £1billion in online purchases.

These figures continue to show the widening disparity between the online, virtual world and regular brick and mortar stores - who have recently endured the biggest quarterly fall in seven years, during the first three months of 2017. It may be bold to say, but retailers can no longer deny the truth: modern day shoppers crave immediate, digitally driven experiences through online shopping. Step forth; artificial intelligence.

As A.I. pulls data to automate, predict and personalise; the retail industry is beginning to implement new ways of displaying, selling and conducting customer experience. Think Rebecca Minkoff and the 'digital mirror'; a mirrored display that plays inspirational content and even enables interaction, as shoppers touch the surface to make requests.

Elsewhere in production, Kate Spade has played a part in creating handbags with the ability to charge a smartphone, named the Everpurse, and high street chain Topshop has created 'Top Pitch', a programme which aims to discover and co-develop wearable technology. Unmistakably, the line between inspiration and purchase has become blurred by technology; sweeping from the changing room, to our everyday clothes and deep down into our handbags. In 2017; shopping is fluid.


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The younger generation appear to be orchestrating the push - as 62% of UK millennials claim they would appreciate a brand or retailer using artificial intelligence to display new, trailblazing products, and a further 64% believing that technology is the key to discovering what it is they truly want: seamlessly partnering the perfect match via algorithms and data.

The same goes for virtual reality. In fact, the number of virtual reality enthusiasts is predicted to reach 171 million by 2018 and Generation Z (currently below the age of 18) appear to lean favourably toward this innovation - with a generous 80% more likely to visit a store that also offers entertainment or some form of interactive participation.

Augmented reality

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These deep learning algorithms are manipulating data to power vision into the retail industry previously undiscovered. Through technology, retailers have been given an opportunity to heighten customer experience above homogeneous structures and protocols; in doing so, it may be possible to pull physical stores into the digital world - perhaps the only way to safeguard the future of brick and mortar.

Managing director of online British marketplace, OnBuy, Cas Paton comments: "It is vital to improve and revitalise customer experience both online and offline - no matter the industry. The implementation of new technology is carving our path and artificial intelligence is experiencing wide-set, rapid growth. In 2017, brick and mortar retailers must adapt to compete."