What is the Future of Retail?

As I write this, I'm headed to New York City to moderate a panel discussion titled "The Future of Retail" at CE Week. But what is the future of retail?

To be sure, in the future retail will look quite different than the one we have today, thanks to technology. There will most certainly be interactive in-store displays, magic mirrors, access to an endless aisle of inventory and associates outfitted with the latest in mobile devices.

Online retailers will be offering speedier checkout, better payment options and virtual fit technology to provide a better customer experience that will also trim costs associated with returns and exchanges.

And of course all of this will be tied to increasingly rich, personalized mobile experiences as beacons or other tracking technology push messages and pull important data to further inform the store of the future.

Clearly the topic is vast with lots of variables. Our panel is filled with a diverse group, representing both physical and online retailers, technology providers and at least one new payment solution.

B&H Photo's Henry Posner represents one of the larger and most successful electronics and photo stores in the nation, and certainly in New York. Selling technology in today's digital world is no easy feat and the story of B&H's transition is one worth hearing.

Glasses.com is smack in the middle of one of the most exciting product categories today: eyewear. There has been great disruption in the physical channel and Douglas Harris, senior VP of Glasses.com, will discuss how the online eyewear retailer is changing the way consumers shop for glasses. Being able to virtually try on eyewear is a game changer with implications that will ripple across other retail categories and channels.

Ripples CEO Yossi Meshulam will offer his perspective on how the physical environment is evolving to more closely mirror the online one, and Dave Skaff, co-founder of The Science Project, will provide examples of retailers that are creating the store of the future, today.

But none of this will work without innovation in the payments sector. Because shopping, be it online or in-store, can only go so far. Enabling shoppers to pay in more ways will open the door for higher sales. Zibby's payment solution does just that for a sizable number of underbanked consumers by underwriting a scheduled payment program for bigger-ticket items in particular.

The very big-ticket items featured at CE Week.

The "Future of Retail" panel takes place Thursday, June 25 at New York City's Metropolitan Pavilion. I hope to see you there. -Laura