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1. Stores – 3,446 mentions

The Covid-19 pandemic has raised new concerns and alterations for the retail sector, with stores across the world shutting down in the event of the virus outbreak. Store closures, tech innovations in this moment of crisis that deals with few shoppers, social distancing norms, and lack of staff, were some of the popular topics discussed in Q1 2020. For example, an article shared by Scott Galloway, a professor and entrepreneur, described how all the stores in Italy were shut down, except for pharmacies and food markets, due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Harry Wallop, a freelance consumer journalist, raised similar concerns by highlighting that the John Lewis was also closing all its stores. The influencer described how the Oxford street store was flattened during the war, with staff rendered homeless but having all survived in the basement, hoping that it would survive this crisis too.

In other news, Evan Kirstel, a top B2B influencer, describes what the future of retail looks in the event of the Covid-19 crisis which can change the way people shop. He shared a video suggesting that consumers can get in and out of a store in 14 seconds and purchase what they want with the deployment of technologies like sensors, IoT, machine learning and AI.

2. Ecommerce – 1,743 mentions

Transforming the retail experience of shoppers through augmented reality, tech innovations such as delivery bots and mini electric trucks delivering food items and packages to the doorstep, and grocery stores striving to stay competitive with the online ecommerce giants, were some popular topics discussed in this quarter. According to Evan Kirstel, a top B2B influencer, grocery stores are facing stiff competition from online retail.

That is prompting start-ups such as Caper to develop a conventional tool, a cart that bills all the items thrown into it, similar to the grab-and-go technology deployed by Amazon at its Go stores. This helps physical stores powered by technologies and sensors to provide the convenience consumers are getting online, also available offline.

In other news, Scott Galloway, a marketing professor, tweeted on Amazon being not just an ecommerce or a cloud company, but a disruption platform that uses the flywheel effect to spin itself into different industries, be it financial services or the entertainment business. The sheer volume of users on Amazon has also attracted a lot of advertisers, leading to increased innovation, purchases, investments, and stickiness, the article noted.

3. Artificial intelligence – 839 mentions

Tech innovations that will allow customers virtually try on watches, clothing, identify every activity of workers or customers interacting with products, to 3D scanning to detect the right fit for shoes, and smarter supply chains were some popularly discussed topics in Q1 2020. Evan Kirstel, a top B2B influencer, shared a video on how artificial intelligence tracks every activity of a person interacting with products on the shelves via cameras.

The influencer also added that technologies such as augmented reality are increasing the efficiency, and improving the productivity and performance in the retail industry.

In other news, Tamara McCleary, a technology futurist, discusses how AI is being leveraged by marketers across for brand storytelling, to help understand their key customers and tailor their messaging and offerings accordingly.

4. Coronavirus – 659 mentions

Efforts to create ‘elderly hours’ to protect senior shopper during the Covid-19 outbreak, prioritising deliveries for existing customers, reducing the hours of operation to prevent the spread of the virus and restock the shelves, ways to curb the surge in demand for hand sanitizers and face masks, and the complete closure of all non-essential stores, were some popular topics discussed during the quarter.

Ashley Armstrong, a retail reporter for Times, shared an article on the British online supermarket Ocado having stopped taking new customers and its website being temporarily down due to the inability to cope with a surge in demand. The online groceries and essentials retailer decided to temporarily prioritise deliveries for existing customers, and stop new customer bookings for the time being.

In other news, Evan Kirstel, the social media influencer, shared an article on some grocery stores announcing ‘elderly hours’ to allow senior shoppers do their shopping in the event of the virus outbreak. These stores included Iceland Foods, in the UK and the Coles supermarket chain in Australia, to hold special hours for the elderly who are more susceptible to the disease.

5. Innovation – 485 mentions

Innovation is key to the retail sector, with reinventing the grocery store experience with novel technologies such as augmented reality, 5G, AI, and edge computing, along with collaborations to embed payment capabilities to mobilise retail, were some of the popular topics discussed in the quarter. For example, Glen Gimore, a social media strategist, shared a video on how augmented reality can transform the shopping experience for customers.

In other news, Evan Kirstel, the social media influencer, shared an article on how grocery stores such as Walmart has transformed its ordinary store into a 50,000-square-foot AI lab that tests new technologies in a real world scenario. For instance, it uses AI to notify the staff when stocks run out and to restock the shelves.