What might the future of the retail experience look like?
The retail sector is an exciting place to be. Fast moving and ever-evolving, it is being driven by huge brands like Amazon to innovate service and create meaningful and memorable experiences for consumers. From omnichannel shopping, to retail stores as destinations, there are many trends – and future trends – likely to shape the sector. With these in mind what might the future of the retail experience actually look like?
Moving beyond channels
Omnichannel retailing has become a popular term to describe the way that consumers use more than one channel during the process of making a purchase. However, many experts believe that the future of the retail experience goes beyond this, rising above distinctions such as “online or in-store” to more connected experiences where there is no typical customer journey. A platform neutral approach that incorporates the different experiences offered by channels, but doesn’t attempt to base customer journey around them, is what many believe will be the future of retail.
What’s your purpose?
If retailers are to get beyond channels as a way of shaping experiences, what other options are there? Brand purpose is one factor that could truly begin to shape the retail experience for consumers in years to come. This doesn’t necessarily need to be an impressive or worthy purpose but one that is based around the products and services that are offered by a brand. For example, this could be inspiring customers to buy more ethically or supporting simpler or more connected lifestyles. Purpose gives a customer a reason to choose one specific brand over another at a time when many are finding it difficult to differentiate themselves. As the big brands like Amazon continue to eat up market share it will become even more important for retailers to use purpose to create a “path to purchase.”
Retail + experience
Despite many claims that the death of the high street is coming, there is evidence to the contrary. For example, 60% of Generation Z (the most digitally-driven of all generations) prefer to purchase in-store. Plus, 67% of ecommerce brands that receive over a certain level of funding open a physical store within 36 months. This would seem to indicate that both customers and brands recognise and seek out the value of the physical store. However, what is true is that the way we experience in-store shopping will change dramatically. Retailers are already seeking to convert stores into destinations in themselves and using methods such as gamification to enhance the experience element of the customer journey.
The impact of social and tech
The collision of social and retail has already resulted in sites like Instagram evolving to offer a way for its users to shop direct from its platform – and some retailers are even developing their own social platforms. Augmented reality is another game changer for retailers, from the ability to “try on” make up or clothes, to the opportunities presented by voice technology. Artificial intelligence too will impact on retail, particularly with respect to customer service, and virtual reality is likely to hold the key to the visual merchandising of the future.
The future for retail is exciting and at The RG Group we are on top of the challenges and opportunities this presents in terms of the construction projects that we undertake. If you’re looking for project managers and construction engineers for your retail project, get in touch with The RG Group today.