The future of retail is driven by technology, mobile devices, the web, social media and the search for ever richer shopping experiences. The shopping experience is increasingly becoming customer centric; they can now choose how, when and where to shop. The traditional store will remain important but the store of the future will push the boundary of customer choices and offer personal shopping assistance, product testing, education, virtual inventory and social connectivity. Those innovative services will in turn increase customer loyalty and brand adoption.
Check out our guide to keep up with retail technology here.
In the Best Retail Brands 2013 report, Interbrand highlights that: "The store, as the heart of the brand and its emotional center, cannot be starved of investment and innovation, or appropriate levels of design, media and technology. It needs to be the showcase for interesting new collaborations to keep things exciting, whether it's a luxury jeweller or a humble dollar store."
Let's take a look at how the big brands are adopting new retail technology.
In 2011, Tesco was the first company to open a virtual store in a Seoul subway station, showcasing items with QR codes that could be scanned and ordered by smartphone for home delivery. Peapod also tested a virtual grocery store in Chicago in 2012 and they are now putting a virtual store on a truck heading to ballparks, concert venues and coffee shops in five major city along the East Coast of the US. Peapod COO Mike Brennan said in a statement. "This go-round, we're exploring new, hyper-local platforms to communicate our convenience message of 'Shop Anywhere, Anytime with Peapod."
Tesco: Homeplus Subway Virtual Store
- TWEET MIRRORS - - - Westfield | Mexx Duesseldorf
Tweet mirrors enable shoppers to take picture of their outfits and instantly share them with their friends on Twitter and Facebook.
Mexx Duesseldorf Tweet Mirror
- VIRTUAL FITTING ROOM - - - Face Cake Swivel | Top Shop
Virtual fitting rooms enable people to try (virtual) clothes & accessories without getting undressed or battling through a busy shop. The camera is able to monitor the customer's movements and tell when they turn around in order to show them the back of the garment too. This technology has spread like wild fire, you can find one at Robina on the Gold Coast.
Virtual Dressing room
Adidas took window shopping to the next level, There is nothing to explain just watch the magic happen.
Adidas NEO Window Shopping
- VIRTUAL FOOTWEAR WALL - - - Adidas
Adidas have created an in-store digital experience to showcase their 8,000+ shoe range. It can be deployed to allow almost any retailer to sell the entire Adidas product range without having to be a flagship store in a major city, which is a huge win for all sorts of retailers big and small.
Intel and Adidas Transforming Retail
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.