I suggest this very interesting article about .. well, an online supermarket: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/how-many-robots-does-it-take-to-fill-a-grocery-order
My five key take-aways:
Most of us knew Ocado as an online supermarket. Well, Ocado is officially also a supplier of technology to their competitors. Very similarly to what FarFetch.com aims at doing with their purchase of a physical boutique in London: improve their retail tech and supply it to their trading partners (and competitors).
As retail margins sink, due to consumer empowerment and to the disappearance of geography, value will for some stem from both the sale of tech and the trading of goods, and from the access to data. Amazon taught a lesson that some other (very) smart retailers are learning.
Digital tech is faster to deploy and to use than any retail technology humans designed since the invention of money. As a consequence, all your trading partners legitimately expect your proficiency in their preferred technology. All companies must therefore consider themselves tech companies. This means you must have a C-level exec able to understand, embrace, and select technology and define what sort of tech-team the company needs.
Robotics today = IoT + Machine learning. Applied to 101 mechanics
Data data data. Some (Ocado, FarFetch, Amazon in the examples above) will own proprietary data. But all of us must learn to leverage non-proprietary, multiple-source, non-standardized data. I bet this is one of the coming trends of marketing tech for the retail industry.
Enough for now. :-) Enjoy.