The future of retail: Our predictions

Retail is facing unprecedented change, and physical stores have their work cut out to stay afloat. We predict what we think will take retail by storm in the coming years.

In our retail blog series, we’ve covered all kinds of topics. We’ve looked back at the past 10 years of retail. We’ve looked at what retailers need to succeed today.

But how about what comes next? What will successful retails of the future look like? Here’s what we think.

Rethinking reality

Over the past few years we’ve seen reality tech rise from a very expensive novelty to a useful tool for all kinds of industries.

We think in the not-so-distant future it’ll be commonplace to see retail spaces using VR, AR and more.

Shoppers will be able to watch cookery products demonstrated, see themselves in outfits instantly, or even switch between car paint colours with the touch of a button. Audi are already using VR in their showrooms to bring the car-buying experience to life.

Because customers will be able to do all of this in very little space, retailers will be able to use smaller units and hold less stock on site. And of course, that means lower costs.

Eco seeker

As we know from the damning reports surfacing this week – telling us we’ve only 12 years to change our ways before ecological catastrophe – things have got to change. Fast.

So retail, just as much as any industry, is going to have to revolutionise its processes and practices to limit their impact on the planet.

At aisle level, we’ll surely see changes to the materials used for packaging and labelling. POS materials will need to be made from eco-friendly and recyclable materials. We also predict we’ll see stores capitalising on new ways to power and heat retail spaces.

And while AR and VR takes us into the future, the future of retail could take us back to the old school; cutting right down on packaging, repairing over replacing, and manufacturing to last.

In much the same way that Pret rewards customers for using recyclable cups and Patagonia recycles broken jackets, stores will undoubtedly expand their incentive programmes to encourage eco-friendly shopping behaviour.

Razzle-dazzle shopping

As we well know, internet shopping has increased for a number of years. And due to its sheer ease, speed and the ability to browse around to save money, that shows little sign of slowing down.

So for retailers who want to maintain a strong physical, high street presence, shopping has to offer people something above and beyond online shopping.

What do we predict? An investment in in-store talent – retail workers who know their stuff inside out, can hold a great conversation and be genuinely helpful when it comes to finding shoppers the right products.

Convenience stores need to become more convenient – think walk-out payments – and higher value stores need to more carefully curate their environments, making sure they’re places that people genuinely enjoy spending time.

We also think appealing to cultural capital will play a key part in helping retail thrive. ‘Cool’ or underground experiences in retail have been a real talking point lately, as we’ve discussed in our experiential retail blog.

Let us get you future fit

If you didn’t know, we’re experts in all things retail.

So if you’d like to make sure your retail presence stays strong as the digital revolution continues, please get in touch and we can fit a solution around you.

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