It’s time to say goodbye to the shopping malls of old and hello to an exciting future of retail innovation.

Successful retailers already know consumer expectations, fueled by our increasingly digital-first lifestyles, are changing rapidly. They are well aware of the fact that shopping malls are not how people actually want to shop.

Customers see fast, easy and personalized online shopping as the norm. It can be hard to meet these expectations in the real world, but it is something that must be done. Consider a recent global study by Avanade and EKN, which found that 56% of retailers surveyed expect their store formats will evolve into fulfillment centers by 2020.

Technology is enabling this transformational shift in retail, breaking down traditional barriers and unlocking new potential. The industry is primed for experimentation and innovation through technology. Here are five examples that could soon reshape the shopping experience and forge enduring, loyal customer relationships in the process.

Making Connections, Everywhere
The Internet of Things (IoT) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) are enabling a world of connected devices and objects with enormous potential in retail. The fusion of these technologies will lead to a smarter, more integrated shopping experience benefitting consumers.

Imagine a store with RFID tags on every item and every shopping bag, all of it connected to a wireless network. Suddenly, shoppers don’t have to seek out a clerk to buy their items. They simply take what they want and the transaction occurs electronically.

This human-centric approach could lead to dramatically different retail form factors dictated by how people want to shop instead of how retailers want them to shop. And the technology of course offers substantially improved inventory quality control because retailers will be better positioned to track analytics on returns, theft, and fraud issues.

Non-Human Intelligence is Getting Smarter
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already made strides among consumers at home, particularly through virtual assistants like Amazon’s Echo, featuring the Alexa assistant. These gadgets also happen to be incredibly intuitive system agents.

As we expand into an AI-first world, brands will soon be able to better learn and predict consumer behavior, leading to deeper and more relevant shopping experiences both online and offline.

Imagine a store of tomorrow paired with AI and real people. This leads to a more…