US and Europe

NZ, pioneering into the future?

Thursday March 01, 2018 Sam Green

The future, the bright and sunny place where all our problems have been solved by robots, may not be so positive for some long standing businesses.


With advances in technology, there’s is a spectrum of adoption, known as the innovation adoption lifecycle. The spectrum loosely fits a standard normal distribution bell curve with innovators, early adopters, the early majority, the late majority, and the laggards.  The innovators and early adopters gain a huge advantage in the market, while those that adopt technologies too late may fade away.


We are seeing these changes, or at least fears of these changes, in the American retail sector. Retail giant Walmart’s share price fell ten percent last week, being attributed to the increasing dominance of Amazon. While Walmart’s share price has fallen, Amazon’s has grown more than 30 percent in the last four months. This stark contrast in trends doesn’t mean that Amazon’s innovations will take over the world, but investors and traders (half of which are already robots) certainly like what Amazon is doing. 


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Amazon is constantly looking to use technology to improve convenience and the whole customer experience. The Amazon Prime Air drone delivery service made its first delivery last year, the first step in Amazons plan of delivering packages within 30 minutes of purchase. This change removes the need for couriers while also being faster than a round trip to a physical store. This challenge won’t be achieved in the near future, particularly in New Zealand, but these changes are on the way.  


For those that prefer leaving the house and browsing the aisles, Amazon is also promising changes. We have already seen retail changing in New Zealand, particularly in supermarkets, with self-checkout kiosks replacing the need for express checkout lanes. Amazon Go takes this change to a whole new level, replacing both self-checkouts, and the remaining check-out staff.  Simply take from the shelves and leave the store, the rest will be done automatically. The first Amazon Go store opened its doors last month in Seattle, and Amazon are promising more stores this year. Being a market leader comes with its challenges, and the store has had some teething issues, particularly with children moving items around the store. 


The future, and expectations of the future, is causing waves all across the marketplace. Kodak, whose stock has been on a downward trend since 2014, managed to triple its share price by announcing its own cryptocurrency last year, named Kodakcoin.


The changes we are seeing, and will continue to see pose challenges to the Government, businesses and entrepreneurs of New Zealand. Where are we on this innovation adoption lifecycle?  Are we looking for new ideas, creating new processes, or are we waiting for the future to happen, and hope we can catch up?