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Retailers are prioritizing analytics, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things to create experiences that bring the best of the physical to the virtual, and vice-versa. New models of retail will result that seamlessly blend the two worlds.

A walk down a Main Street, a High Street or any other commerce center around the world right now tells a sorry story — a story of the pandemic and of a retail industry utterly changed by forces beyond its control.

Meanwhile, the wheels of commerce continue to spin — both invisibly, from our phones, tablets and laptops, and visibly, from the constant stream of delivery trucks down our streets, the acres of land covered in new Amazon fulfillment centers, and the curbsides and parking spaces dedicated to non-contact pickup. While physical stores have increasingly bent the knee to their more digitally adept and born-virtual counterparts for two-plus decades, that’s nothing compared with the past 12-plus months. In droves, consumers turned to online shopping to protect both their health (with groceries and necessities) and their sanity (with the not-so-necessaries).

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