The most imperative social trend impacting retail today is the age-old model where people had to go to the store to buy something has been cut because buying something or rather anything is quicker, simpler infinitely more convenient done online.Also given the fact that Gen Z who constitute a major group of consumers are the first digitally native generation who spend majority of their waking hours attached to their mobile device. Hence, they lean toward shopping on the web as opposed to taking the inconvenience of finding a parking space in packed shopping centers and strolling to the store when they can get all that they need just by the click of a button. The decline in sales of retail stores was seen in light of the fact that their stores were littered with abandoned technologies and strategies once heralded as the key to wowing customers who gradually got tired of browsing the same old stores.
It is evident that it’s been a rough time for many prominent retail chainsand the sector’s future prospects do not look rosy. Despite pressure from online retail and some high-profile collapses, many driven by debt from leveraged buyouts, it can be said that the brick-and-mortar retail sector is overall limping and that the retail apocalypse is only a myth.
In today’s world, the choice to go out to shop has transformed into a cognizant one where customers truly need the experience of shopping. Thus, all the talk about experiential retail. The need of the hour is a revamped version of retail stores that is an integration of virtual reality with mindboggling shopping experience in stores.The store now has become a brand ambassador, both online and brick-and-mortar. The store must be the best it can be in order to create a bond with the customer. It should associate with parts of the retail experience that aren't effectively reproduced on the web. The endless racks of clothes need to be ditched for a few curated selections, peppered with must-have items that can only be purchased in store.Sales associates need to be rebranded as “stylists” or “connectors” and maximise the use mobile payments in-store to make the experience as tech-savvy as possible. The key is invisible technology — the kind that makes the customer experience seamless but doesn’t require any work on their part. Retail stores should be about tapping into a luxury lifestyle that their consumers aspire to possess.
Retailers have become well-versed with harvesting consumer data online, but some see tracking shoppers in physical stores as the next frontier and potentially a superior approach to become more acquainted with their customers. The digital-native brands have explored that to genuinely connect with the customers they need to meet them face-to-face. It legitimizes and authenticates the brand. For these digital-native brands, the physical store becomes both a customer acquisition point and its enables awareness and exposure to the brand. To become truly successful, brands need physical plus digital virtuosity. Making a personal connection at all points in the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase journey is critical. Pop-up shops too play a vital role in the new curated retail store. They help emerging brands test the waters and develop new retail concepts. Popups also keep the store fresh and vibrant giving customers new things to see and experience.
Although e-commerce brands and e-tailers are seen as tough competitors, the future seems to be focused on people and human interaction backed by technology that makes the whole experience convenient and easy. The future fate of retail is communities and thinking about what it means for people to be part of a tribe in the context of retail.
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