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CES Recap: The Top Retail Takeaways

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

A number of retail tech innovations were recently unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that took place January 8 - 12 in Las Vegas. The world’s largest technology show is truly a spectacle, each year attracting startups and tech giants eager to show off new gadgets, platforms and vision. Here’s our rundown of the most transformative CES retail announcements:

Hottest newcomer: Beauty tech

Beauty tech made a big splash this year at CES. Although health and fitness has long been a staple at the show (wearables, medical devices, etc.), beauty has never really been in focus...until now. Clarisonic, Procter & Gamble, Neutrogena and L’Oreal all displayed new products that incorporated AI for more personalisation. Olay displayed Olay Skin Advisor, which it heralds as the first application of deep learning in the beauty industry, offering women a smart skin analysis and personalised product recommendations. Neutrogena introduced MaskiD, a personalised 3D-printed sheet mask.Introduction of these products into the market and distribution strategy is yet to be tested, but we can expect more updates throughout 2019.

Greatest potential impact: Autonomous delivery.

The deliver experience is about to become even more seamless. Or at least that is the impression we got from CES this year. It’s no secret that companies like Amazon and Ocado are investing heavily in autonomous technology. CES showed us a number of other firms raising the stakes through drones, smart transportation hubs and other logistics innovations. Segway featured its Loomo Delivery robot capable of delivering 50kg of items navigating urban areas before voluntarily returning to a charging station., the Chinese ecommerce leader, participated in CES for the first time this year. The company did not disappoint, showcasing its commitment to “Boundaryless Retail” with autonomous logistics, delivery robots and facial recognition technology that enables customers to securely collect parcels.

Biggest surprise: The North Face’s “Futurelight”

Fabric tech certainly isn’t commonplace at CES, but this year The North Face made waves by introducing “Futurelight,” the most waterproof, most breathable and most eco-friendly fabric ever. Futurelight will be launched in fall 2019. Designed to address the problem of allowing condensation (a.k.a. sweat) to escape clothing, Futurelight will attempt to replace Gore-Tex as the optimum weather-resistant material. The fabric was specially engineered using a technique called nanospinning, which weaves fibers at the submicroscopic level, to be more porous, durable and dynamic. From a sustainability standpoint, Futurelight is created with recycled materials and uses a non-PFC durable water repellent coating. Consumers can expect a launch in fall 2019 and use in the company’s premium Summit Series, Steep Series and Flight Series outdoor gear lines.

For more comprehensive coverage of this year’s show, check out

Written by Kathryn McConnell

Kathryn is a MBA 2020 candidate at London Business School and member of the Walpole Programme in Luxury Management. She came to LBS from the US after several years of developing strategic marketing campaigns for multi-national organizations. Her work has ranged from international consumer product launches to corporate earnings strategy and has led to features in the world’s top publications, including The Guardian and Wall Street Journal. Kathryn is an experienced dressmaker and active in preserving the craft in her hometown of Philadelphia. Kathryn has a B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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