iOS13 & The End of High Street Retail?

Edward Terry
Sep 22, 2018 · 3 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Tech from The Expanse TV show

Last week I read an article on the Business Advice website about a recent study which predicts that High Street Shopping (retail) will die out in 2082 as all retail sales will be made online.

While the article suggests the necessary human element of retail may prolong this, it doesn’t consider the evolution of the online experience. It is also hard to assume a straight-line reduction in the shift to online.

Tech enables a Paradigm Shift away from the Physical

Although this is 200 years in the future, if we apply the same approach to retail we can see that the paradigm of shopping itself will change through the development of online systems. Larger displays, holographic projections (via augmented reality at first), and accessibility to real people through these connections removes the need for physical shops as these shops can be brought to wherever you are. It may not be 200 years hence as much of these tools are already there, but just not yet integrated.

The Evolution of AI

Artificial Intelligence. I believe we are on the cusp of the next jump in AI through smart devices. Apple’s acquisition of Workflow in 2017, rebranding as Shortcuts in 2018 with the release of iOS12, and some slick marketing to encourage us to use it to develop Siri Actions provides us a new tool we never thought we needed.

What is “Shortcuts”?

I played with Workflow previously and it’s not easy to knock out a workflow. It is programming. Even Apple acknowledged that you need “a little work” to do this in their slick presentation. But, given the number of people who own an iOS12 enabled device, it won’t be long before there is a whole ecosystem of new Siri Actions being generated and, more importantly here, for Apple to learn from.

And that’s where iOS13 is going to change the game. As we create new workflows (shortcuts), we teach Apple’s AI about how we really use the collection of Apps we have installed on our smart devices. We teach the machine new commands it cannot figure out on its own, not even with Apple’s help. Once Apple collects a canon of such commands, Siri can embrace these and automatically allow us to apply natural language interaction that has always been the plan (though currently falls short). We can start doing the things we see in the sci-fi shows, and so the lack of need for the physical presence — retail in the context of this article — becomes a much nearer-term proposition.

If retailers start looking at how to integrate and embrace this shift, I think that we could well be retailing very differently in 2020 than we are today and I believe High Street Retail will become a relic of the early 21st Century. While some very specialised shops may still exist, the bulk of our routine shopping activity will shift into new models enabled by the technology to come.

Image for post
Image for post

Originally published at on September 22, 2018.


Ed’s thoughts on world-spanning matters from climate to…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store