It’s Black Friday, one of the most important days of the year for the retail business, and a good moment to take a look at how technology is continuing to transform the industry. In our annual look at the retail sector, I spoke to several dealmakers to get their insights on what is happening.

“Different technologies are slowly influencing changes in our lives,” says Swander Pace Capital principal Robert Vassel.

“The mechanics of selling online have never been easier with an increasingly flexible suite of solutions to power everything from front-end design to reverse logistics,” adds Cathy Leonhardt, co-head of global consumer retail at investment bank Solomon Partners.

There is more software and technology available now to help retailers improve their websites and e-commerce services. Strategic buyers are buying up those technologies.

Gap Inc. is one good example. In October, the Banana Republic and Old Navy owner, acquired tech startup Context-Based 4 Casting Ltd. The latter uses artificial intelligence and machine learning that helps retailers improve operations, increase sales and improve customer experience through predictive analytics.

CB4 is not the only tech acquisition that Gap had made in 2021. In August, Gap purchased Drapr, an e-commerce startup that allows customers to create 3D avatars and virtually try on clothing. Drapr is designed to help customers find the best clothing size and fit for their personal style and body type, while helping retailers reduce unnecessary returns.

One investment banker summed up on what retailers need to do to come out as winners. “Convenience and an experience that gives the consumer what they want easily and seamlessly will be what defines the most successful retailers,” says Warren Feder, a partner at investment bank Carl Marks Advisors.

Time for retailers to work on their holiday shopping lists.

– Demitri Diakantonis