Nasdaq 100: Not Your Father's Retail

Some of the boldest technology innovation that has the most visible, immediate and universal impact has come through the retail space. How to buy things faster and pay less for them has been the consumer’s mantra since commerce as we know it began. The quest for making our shopping experience better has never stopped and companies in the Nasdaq-100 are leading the way to perfect the way retail works.

A Look Deeper: Retail Companies

There is probably no better example of retail innovation than Amazon (AMZN). While it started mainly as a bookseller, Amazon has come to dominate multiple retail channels and has upended online shopping as we know it. Beyond its advances in logistics and online search that have been central to where it’s come so far, the Seattle-based company has been the first among its peers to move into the areas that are the most-explored currently, such as cloud computing, digital technology, and the use of robots and drones.

It has been a leader in innovation even among its many innovative peers. It launched its home assistant Amazon Echo in 2014 before several of its popular rivals, and its latest mode of Echo, Echo Dot, was one of the most in-demand items for holiday shopping late last year. The company’s Amazon Go service promises a brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience with no lines. While Amazon opened an Amazon Go grocery store, its likely revolution will be to have its payments system used by other retailers. It has been among the most innovative explorer of drone technology, experimenting with different methods and models in its efforts to develop drone delivery and robotic assistants across markets.

PayPal (PYPL) has made it possible to send money to anyone, anywhere in the globe quickly and safely. But its innovation into online payments hasn’t stopped it for innovating to help bridge the technology gap. Last year saw the payments pioneer process more than $7 billion charitable donations alone. It is available on mobile devices via its OneTouch mobile and web payment service and it is making inroads into making e-commerce easier for people who still deal in cash, a form of democratization of the online world.

Last summer, the company launched an innovation lab in Singapore, its first outside the U.S., and its innovation labs have helped incubate dozens of companies. It also has a separate technology center in Chennai, India that it launched in 2013. PayPal began the year with an announcement that it was going to create a network that allows customers to use cash to make digital payments. It is joining with 7-Eleven to enable its cashier to scan a code on a customer’s smart phone and accept cash to make a digital payment. Google Play has the app ready for customers to download.

Innovation can start with your morning cup of coffee, and Starbucks (SBUX) has been a vanguard company for retail innovation. Its pumpkin spice latte is the flavor that helped expand and popularize use of pumpkin spice drinks and flavors. Starbucks saw the trend developing that retail businesses would have to evolve to be more online-focused and to develop status as an experience destination and adapted accordingly, expanding its retail locations even as retail space shrunk.

It has sought to marry the latest in voice and mobile technology with one of the most basic retail rites of passage – getting a cup of coffee. This past January it launched two voice-ordering features. One is an on-command voice-ordering mobile ordering system that works with its iPhone app. The other is a skill for the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Both of these systems allow customers to order and pay for a cup of coffee without ordering from or paying a person, though they must still pick up their coffee at a Starbucks location and wait for a barista to call their name. It plans to continue innovating, staking out a five-year plan.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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