Top 8 Retail Industry Trends & Innovations in 2024

What advancements in technology will enhance retail operations and customer experiences? Delve into our in-depth research on the top 8 retail industry trends based on our analysis of 2500+ companies. These trends encompass areas such as omnichannel commerce, automated stores, immersive customer interactions, and beyond!

Digital transformation of the retail industry is rising exponentially, especially after the pandemic disrupted supply chains globally. Retailers across the world are seeking new ways to understand and reach a broader customer base, drive sales, and build a unique brand value. The top retail industry trends in 2024 include innovation through artificial intelligence (AI), omnichannel distribution, and store automation, among others.

While many startups and scaleups are building solutions to create a resilient retail supply chain, immersive technologies, and metaverse are taking center stage in providing a highly curated customer experience. Finally, driven by rising climate concerns and informed consumers, retailers are offering sustainably sourced products while also lowering their own carbon footprint.

This article was published in July 2022 and updated in February 2024.

Innovation Map outlines the Top 8 Retail Industry Trends & 16 Promising Startups

For this in-depth research on the Top 8 Retail Trends & Startups, we analyzed a sample of 2721 global startups and scaleups. The result of this research is data-driven innovation intelligence that improves strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies & startups in the retail industry. These insights are derived by working with our Big Data & AI-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 3 790 000+ startups & scaleups globally. As the world’s largest resource for data on emerging companies, the SaaS platform enables you to identify relevant startups, emerging technologies & future digital retail trends quickly & exhaustively. Moreover, the Retail Innovation Map reveals 16 hand-picked startups, all working on emerging technologies that advance their field.

Top 8 Retail Industry Trends in 2024

  1. Retail Fulfillment
  2. Omnichannel Commerce
  3. In-Store Automation
  4. Smart Checkout
  5. Immersive Customer Experience
  6. Sustainability
  7. Artificial Intelligence
  8. Big Data & Analytics



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Tree Map reveals the Impact of the 8 Current Retail Trends in 2024

Based on the Top 8 Retail Industry Trends & the Innovation map above, the Tree Map below illustrates the impact of the Top 8 Retail Trends in 2024 and beyond. The global pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of the existing supply chain, making retail technologies empowering fulfillment the biggest trend. A multi-channel presence besides physical stores is no longer an option but rather a necessity to remain competitive in the industry.

Technology in retail stores is automating mundane tasks such as merchandising and customer service to account for worker shortages and increase employee productivity. Additionally, it is paving the way for smart payment and self-checkout systems. Further, web3 technologies, metaverse, and extended reality (XR) are further enabling the retail sector to offer hyper-personalized customer journeys and optimize operational efficiency. Supply chain transparency and sustainable practices are also gaining importance in the retail industry.


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Global Startup Heat Map covers 2721 Retail Startups & Scaleups

The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the global distribution of the 2721 exemplary startups & scaleups that we analyzed for this research. Created through the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, the Heat Map reveals high startup activity in the US and Western Europe, followed by India. Below, you get to meet 16 out of these 2721 promising startups & scaleups as well as the solutions they develop. These retail startups are hand-picked based on criteria such as founding year, location, funding raised, & more. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.


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Interested to explore all 2500+ retail startups & scaleups?


Top 8 Innovations & Trends in Retail Industry (2024)

1. Retail Fulfillment

Retailers are shaping their business strategies around retail fulfillment to achieve better market penetration. The proliferation of last-mile delivery services and micro-fulfillment centers meets customer expectations for same-day or faster deliveries. Both physical and online retailers offer local and hyper-local delivery services, either by repurposing stores as distribution centers or collaborating with logistics partners.

Buy-online-and-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup strategies drive store-based fulfillment. Automation of fulfillment services tackles worker shortages, enables instant fulfillment, and improves order tracking. Startups employ automated guided vehicles (AGVs), autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and drones for efficient last-mile delivery. Moreover, the integration of cloud computing facilitates real-time data analysis. This technology provides valuable insights for improving inventory turnover and reducing overhead costs, thereby enhancing overall efficiency.

Urbx Logistics provides Automated Micro Fulfillment

US-based startup Urbx Logistics develops automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) for grocery and eCommerce fulfillment. The startup’s system, Curbside, enables micro-fulfillment in existing stores by automating picking and packing with its AMRs, Grid and TowerBots.

The system is customizable to store requirements and includes racking systems, totes, pick stations, and software to manage and control the micro warehouse. Urbx Logistics thus cuts down order fulfillment and processing time, increasing the delivery efficiency of local and multi-store retail chains. offers Autonomous Last-Mile Delivery Vehicles

Turkish startup facilitates contactless and zero-emissions grocery and package delivery through its proprietary navigation technology and AGVs. The startup leverages camera-based sensor fusion and AI to navigate its autonomous robotic delivery vehicles through traffic signals, pedestrian, and cycling lanes.

This mitigates food tampering as well as ensures timely and contactless delivery. Cloud kitchens, virtual restaurants, and online order platforms use’s solution to optimize last-mile deliveries.

2. Omnichannel Commerce

Retailers, both digital-native and brick-and-mortar, adopt a unified approach to captivate consumers. Integration of eCommerce and mobile commerce is a strategy employed by big box and small store retailers. Online-only retailers, on the other hand, devise innovative methods to offer customers physical experiences. Phygital retail facilitates a smooth transition to a direct-to-consumer (D2C) strategy. It also enables retailers to adapt to small store formats with minimum inventory. Brands invest more in targeted digital advertisements for customer retention, demand shaping, and loyalty-building.

Social media platforms serve as new storefronts, enabling micro sales without redirecting customers to the store website. Advancements in social commerce include live streaming, post sharing, podcasting, and influencer networks on social media. Additionally, retail technologies like voice and visual commerce create opportunities for interactive upselling, cross-selling, and remarketing.

Confer With enables Social Commerce

Confer With is a UK-based startup that provides a social commerce platform to create a store-like shopping environment for customers. The platform equips in-store staff to directly share product images as well as provide demos and shopping recommendations while engaging customers with video.

The live video shopping approach enables retailers to provide a personalized experience and boost customer loyalty.

Pairzon simplifies Omnichannel Marketing Automation

Israeli startup Pairzon combines customer data from online and offline touchpoints to automate omnichannel marketing. The startup’s eponymous platform utilizes AI to enrich first-party business data from unknown in-store shoppers and assigns it an online identity.

This data is used to form audience segments and automatically deliver personalized promotions to previously unreachable shoppers online. This optimizes digital marketing efforts and drives revenue for physical retailers and brands.

3. In-Store Automation

To provide a better, hygienic, and safer in-store experience, retailers are using cleaning robots and chatbots that offer optimum times to visit stores. Workforce upgrades in startups are underway to align with automated stores, boosting productivity. These improvements allow for home-based order management and the operation of virtual shopping assistants. Conversational chatbots are deployed to address customer inquiries.

Technologies such as IoT, 5G, AI, edge computing, AR, and VR are revolutionizing store operations. These advancements facilitate efficient management of shelf space, inventory levels, and product labels. They also guide customers in large stores through store navigation and positioning. In-store automation provides retailers with valuable data points to discover revenue opportunities, engage customers, and optimize store operations.

Milky Way AI enables Remote Shelf Management

Singaporean startup Milky Way AI builds InstaShelf, a proprietary merchandising platform for remote shelf management. It combines computer vision and AI algorithms to analyze shelf photographs in real-time. The platform then provides insights into product performance and suggests corrective actions such as shelf replenishment.

It also generates alerts if products are out-of-stock, placed out of specification, or priced incorrectly. This reduces the time and cost of manual shelf audits and empowers retailers to remotely manage store operations.

Naviteel develops Indoor Positioning Systems

Naviteel, an Estonian startup, offers an all-inclusive indoor navigation system for retail spaces. Its interactive maps facilitate efficient shopping list organization and swift item location. The system provides real-time updates on product locations, stock levels, and discounts, thereby enriching the consumer experience. Naviteel’s solution streamlines shopping, making it more personalized and convenient.

4. Smart Checkout

Contactless payments and cashier-less checkouts, powered by advanced technologies, are enhancing convenience and minimizing customer wait time. Startups employ sensors, blockchain, NFC, and biometrics to automate and authenticate retail payments. Given that smartphones often serve as the initial digital touchpoint for most customers, mobile checkout has become a necessity.

Contactless point-of-sale (POS) solutions like scan-and-go use the customer’s smartphone for payment authentication, while facial ID checkouts and wearables rely on biometrics. The implementation of self-service kiosks, automated checkouts, and Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) strategies curtails queue and waiting times in stores. These technologies extend customer conversion beyond the store’s physical boundaries. Retailers benefit from reduced labor costs and increased customer throughput, which is important during peak shopping hours.

Zeroqs builds a Smart Shopping Cart

Polish startup Zeroqs manufactures a patented smart shopping cart that functions as a self-service kiosk for faster checkout. The startup’s shopping trolley, SmartCart, combines a barcode scanner, touchscreen monitor, as well as weight and vision sensors to scan products added to the cart.

Furthermore, shoppers use the monitor to navigate through the store, make shopping lists and automate payment using their preferred method. This allows physical store owners to eliminate shopping queues and inventory shrinkage as well as push personalized offers to shoppers.

Leav offers Contactless Mobile Checkouts

Canadian startup Leav develops a smartphone-based contactless self-checkout platform. It is integrable into new or existing stores with minimum infrastructural changes. Shoppers scan product QR codes using smartphones which redirects them to the retail store portal on Leav’s platform.

The platform functions as a digital shopping cart and allows shoppers to pay for each item after scanning the product. This prevents theft, tracks inventory cycles, and provides real-time insights into store operations.



5. Immersive Customer Experience

Engaging experiences in shopping translate into loyalty from customers, ensuring repeated sales and minimizing product returns. Immersive technologies like AR and VR offer shoppers a new dimension of interaction, including virtual try-on, 3D product visualization, and personalized recommendations. These technologies also provide retailers with the ability to test products before launch, train employees effectively, and promote a no-inventory store format.

The metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and gamified brand experiences are emerging trends in the retail industry, particularly in retail-marketing-as-entertainment or retailtainment. These innovative approaches have demonstrated their effectiveness in enhancing brand engagement and loyalty, particularly among Gen Z shoppers. Trends that further enhance the customer journey include interactive displays, holographic presentations, and experiences based on scent and sound.

Mazing develops Web-based AR Software for Virtual Try-on

Mazing is an Austrian startup that provides web-based AR software for retail brands. It allows businesses to create AR-ready models from photos, CAD models, dimensional sketches, and 3D scans. Customers use a web platform to access the product models and try on them virtually.

The software eliminates in-house software development and, in turn, accelerates time-to-market for retail companies with online channels. At the same time, customers benefit from enhanced buying experiences and the AR virtual try-ons improve buying decisions.

So Real develops Immersive 3D Catalogs

Swiss startup So Real offers 3D product catalogs for eCommerce brands. The startup uses its patented scanning and conversion technology to develop digital twins of products. These plug-and-play models are ready to use with XR and other immersive technologies.

So Real’s virtual asset viewer allows retailers to leverage these digital twins and virtually showcase their products in simulated physical environments. This allows online retailers to promote their products and make engaging marketing materials.

6. Sustainability

As climate change impacts become more evident, customer consciousness about their shopping habits and lifestyles is increasing. This shift is leading startups and established retailers to incorporate sustainability into their product assortments and operations. Trends such as organically grown food, locally sourced products, digital receipts, and emission-free shipping are advancing retail sustainability. In addition, retailers are adopting biodegradable packaging and renewable energy sources, which not only reduce environmental impact but also appeal to eco-conscious consumers.

Retailers are also striving to achieve net-zero goals by measuring the carbon footprint and energy efficiency of their operations. On-demand manufacturing is being used to tackle overproduction, while rental or subscription business models are reducing wastage. The promotion of reverse commerce or reCommerce is encouraging a circular economy. Retail startups are leveraging technologies like blockchain, NFTs, IoT, and 5G to enhance supply chain transparency, verify product authenticity, and facilitate distributed order management.

Textile Genesis aids Supply Chain Traceability

Hong Kong-based startup Textile Genesis provides TextileGenesis, a fiber-to-retail supply chain traceability platform for the textile and fashion industry. It uses blockchain, AI, and digital twins to trace and authenticate textiles to their source of origin across supply tiers.

The platform digitizes any textile assets such as fiber, yarns, or garments into its blockchain tokens, Fibercoins, that trace the flow of goods in real-time. Sustainable textile and apparel manufacturers use this platform to certify the provenance information of their products and ensure ESG compliance.

reverse. supply enables ReCommerce

German startup develops a circular retail platform to advance retail reCommerce. The startup’s reCommerce-as-a-service platform sources information on the second-hand market of a brand’s products. It then optimizes the second sale operations using an AI-driven grading system.

This enables brands to resell products through their own channels, extending product lifecycles. The platform also enables brands and retailers to increase brand value and sustainability efforts while improving customer loyalty.

7. Artificial Intelligence

In retail, technologies such as AI, natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and deep learning (DL) are enhancing in-store operations and customer experiences. Algorithmic merchandising optimized by AI enables predictive inventory planning and efficient stock allocation. This technology also increases supply chain efficiency and allows for cost and pricing optimization in storefronts and when sourcing goods from suppliers.

These applications of AI help retailers improve margins and devise optimal marketing strategies. AI-powered consumer behavior and sentiment analysis contribute to the hyper-personalization of product offerings and promotions. Additionally, AI is leveraged for product design customization and personalized recommendations, facilitating seamless customer journeys.

Puzl facilitates Advertisement Cost Optimization

US-based startup Puzl is an AI-based advertisement planning platform for supermarkets. It is a cloud-based platform that combines data from POS and enterprise retail planning (ERP) systems. The platform then automates weekly ad planning and gross margin management.

This allows supermarket brands and grocery stores to drive more traffic into the stores and, in turn, improve profitability.

Horavision provides Automated Customer Behavior Analysis

Italian startup Horavision builds an AI-powered image and facial recognition platform that provides customer behavior analysis. It uses IoT sensors to scrutinize visitor sentiments towards every product in stock and marketing campaigns across the store.

The platform uses this data to provide insights such as customer demographics, reaction assessment, and footfall analysis. It also improves planogramming, marketing campaign efficacy, and conversion rates while maintaining consumer privacy.

8. Big Data & Analytics

Insights into previously unmeasured retail metrics are now accessible through big data and analytics, revealing unexpected opportunities for process improvements. Startups also utilize collaborative analytics to personalize the customer experience across various channels. Clustering data from first and third-party business sources into targeted segments yields valuable insights across key performance indicators.

Retail analytics enhance understanding of store and workforce performance, as well as customer traffic data. Demand forecasting and inventory management are now empowered by big data, leading to more effective retail planning. The optimization of product placement and pricing strategies through such analytics enhances sales and profitability. These numerous opportunities for innovation and streamlining make big data one of the top retail industry trends.

Belle AI advances Retail Demand Forecasting

Belle AI is an Israeli startup that makes a solution for demand forecasting in retail businesses. It features automated planning in real-time and data mining. For this, the solution leverages behavior analysis. Consequently, Belle AI enables retailers to improve inventory planning and avoid overstock or understock.

Palexy provides Retail Store Analytics

Singaporean startup Palexy ​builds Store Optimizer, a business intelligence platform for store health analytics. It combines big data and AI to collect data from POS systems, surveillance camera feeds, weather information, and promotion calendars.

Based on this data, the platform generates tailored reports on store performance and customer traffic. This offers insights into store layout, product assortment, and workforce performance, enabling small stores and retail chains to improve promotion planning, staff allocation, and customer experience.

Discover all Retail Industry Trends, Innovations, & Startups

The retail industry is accelerating toward digital transformation, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The retail industry is also embracing distributed order management and multi-hyphenate business models. Edge computing is an exciting solution to data collection and processing in a cookieless world. However, digitization comes with its own risks, and startups address growing cyber security, customer data protection, and privacy challenges. Finally, sustainability remains at the core of these advances with AI, blockchain, IoT, and data analytics aiming for net-zero retail in the near future.

The Retail Technology Trends & Startups outlined in this report only scratch the surface of innovation that we identified during our data-driven startup scouting process. Among others, customer analytics, climate-positive retail operations, immersive shopping experiences, and retail supply chain transparency will transform the sector as we know it today. Identifying new opportunities and emerging technologies to implement into your business goes a long way in gaining a competitive advantage. Get in touch to easily and exhaustively scout startups, technologies & trends that matter to you!



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