Editor's View December 2017

According To Experts, The Future Of Retail Is “Me”


In their book, Retail’s Seismic Shift, by Michael Dart with Robin Lewis, the authors claim the structure of retail will change radically by 2027. The dominant distribution model will include integrated physical and digital platforms—which means players that are purely e-commerce now will be opening physical stores in the future. The continued growth in e-commerce will even out as platforms work together to meet consumers’ demands.
Brick-and-mortar retail venues are due for transformation and fallout. Here are highlights on where the authors see these retail modes going:
Shopping Malls: Only the strongest malls and shopping centers that realign will survive.The authors predict that more than half of the current 1,300 entities nationwide will go out of business by 2027. Survivors will either become technologically driven destinations or serve niches in suburban communities. They all need to offer great experiences, from entertainment to exceptional service.
In addition to personalized shopping options that involve interaction via cellphone and tablet, and same-day purchase and home delivery, some malls will incorporate moving walkways, digital screens with personalized messages, and sports and dining venues in sensory stimulating designs. Think Star Trek meets World’s Fair.
Other centers will survive by serving the local community, offering art galleries, places to recycle goods, artisan products and social gathering places. Another winning option includes mixed-use lifestyle centers that pair residential complexes with small shops serving apartment dwellers.
Department Stores: The number is predicted to decline with those surviving transforming into flaghip showroom boutiques that entertain and offer personalized service to make the trip worthwhile.
Branded Specialty Store Chains: The number of these will also decrease. The driver of this trend is the consumer’s desire for more individualized products. The key is for the store to offer a smooth omnichannel experience with locally curated products and great service. Big-box stores will reduce their footprints because of their inability to create intimate, differentiated experiences.
Discounters & Clubs: To survive, these retailers have to offer seamless omnichannel shopping experiences, including the ability to purchase online with store pick-up or same-day delivery.
Neighborhood Stores: The big winners in the retail landscape of the near future are small neighborhood stores. Mom & Pop will triumph again. The more special, intimate, personal, social and community focused the shop is, the better. Big brands can participate in this trend if they establish locally stocked niche stores that offer neighborhood-relevant lines.
Whatever the venue, success seems to be dependent on catering to the individual’s needs and desires, through products, technology and human-to-human service. So, the future of retail is, indeed, all about “me.”