Constant change is in the nature of retailing. The retail industry is probably the most responsive to change. It has evolved from a hunter-gatherer model to a leisure one. "Lock up a department store today, reopen it in 100 years' time and you will have a ready- made museum!" claimed Andy Warhol 50 years ago. Will we have department stores in 50 years? Maybe not but we will always have goods and services to offer. So, what is the future of retail?
The British museum in its latest exhibition, "History of the World in 100 Objects", traces the beginning of the retail industry back to the caveman era, when we were trying to find and to acquire things to fulfill our basic needs. This was the foundation of our shopping behaviors. Then, around 2000 BC, the production and distribution of agriculture produce sparked the creation of money in exchange of goods. The industrial revolution around the 1700 brought into existence inexpensive, mass-produced commodities, which in turn resulted in the creation of shopkeepers and so brand identity was born. From there, supermarket and department stores started to develop and shopping became an entertainment. This is how we know the retail industry today.
The future of retail is only bound by our imagination; we live in an amazing time where science and technology can bring to life any idea and innovations appear at an ever-accelerating pace. Start setting up a strategy now to keep up to date with emerging technology because the Internet, wireless and social technology will be shaping the retail industry for the next 10 to 20 years.
Our shopping behaviour hasn't changed much in the last 100 years. Only the tools used to create the shopping experience have evolved. Who knows what stores will look like 50 or even 10 years from now.
Imagine the Future
In the future stores might be completely virtual, with digital shelves and Holographic communication campaigns. Stores will have brains and senses; they will automatically create customized experiences by gathering data about the customers. The clothes might be collecting info with bio sensors, they will track not only behaviour but mental and physical states. Imagine, stores popping up out of nowhere in the street right in from of you. You were going to visit your friend, thinking: "oh I should have taken a jacket, I am a little cold" and Poof!! A clothing store with winter garments magically appears in front of you. Scary or Convenient?
What do you THINK the future will look like?
What do you WANT the future of retail to look like?
Please share your thoughts and dreams, crazy or practical in the comment box below.