Editor's View - January 2017

The Future Of Retail 10 Years Out
By Wanda Jankowski

In seeking to answer the question “How Will Retail Change In 10 Years?”, the article bearing that title posted on Linked In, Nov. 9, 2016, by Ronald de Groot, in collaboration with David Veldt, both with Yourzine, presents some ideas which may seem fantastic, but they are rooted in technologies that exist or are in development today.

Here are a few of de Groot’s ideas on changes affecting retail in the next decade:

  • Online/Offline Blurred. It will no longer be “online versus offline.” Even today, both are interconnected. In fact, there will be no difference between channels. Technologies will allow marketing messsages to be sent that are most relevant via any channel at the right time for the customer.
    Expect a hybrid retail landscape. “Online retailers will partner with brick-and-mortars to support a click-and-collect model. Other online retailers will set up pop-up stores or move permanently to a physical store with a digital shop-in-shop. At the same time, offline retailers will need less physical space and increasingly invest in online,” writes de Groot.
  • “Conversation Commerce” Increases. Expect the rise of “conversation commmerce,” in which personal service, contact and sales are accessed in one mobile-driven environment. Dual-chat environments that involve video, voice and artificial intelligence chat-bots will be commonplace, according to de Groot.
    The smartphone will develop into a remote control for everything surrounding the consumer. There may be smart devices with flexible screens connected to personal cloud environments. Companies will emerge that use personal data in smart ways.
  • Beyond The Screen. Internet access will reach beyond the screen with nanotechnology enabling it to be incorporated into everyday objects, such as digital tables and mirrors, and clothing equipped with interactive screens and IoT chips. Augmented and virtual realities will play major roles in retail, allowing products to be experienced at home, reducing return shipments. As a day-out activity, consumers will shop in stores that offer amenities as well as the ability to experience products before purchasing.
  • Faster Communication. Lifi/Visible Light Communication will increase—it has speed and precision advantages over wi-fi. This will enable retailers and brands to send consumers personal, relevant messages in real time. In order to give them personal service, brands will offer consumers control over the communication and use of their data. The online web will not exist as we know it, alleges de Groot. Instead, there will be applications activated via voice and finger control.
  • Consumer Data Control Shifts. Personalization will predominate, with brands and retailers offering personal service chat and video platforms in real time. Products will include sensors linked to database/CRM solutions which inform manufacturers who, when and how their products are used, enabling direct relationships with consumers. The retailer will have to develop new ways to work with manufacturers. In fact, de Groot predicts a battle among manufacturers, retailers and service providers over who gets to own the customer relationship.

De Groot believes that more change will happen in the next 10 years than has happened in the past 50 years. Happy 2017—fasten your seatbelts!




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