April 26, 2019

What Does the Future of Retail Look Like?

What comes next in a quickly evolving industry?

Retail has evolved significantly even in the space of the last decade. Today, we’re seeing same-day delivery options, mobile wallets that mean the shopper no longer needs to carry cash or credit cards and the ability to purchase items without even visiting the till in store. But what can we expect next? What does the future of retail look like?

Even More Smartphone Focused
Several years ago the push for mobile-friendly websites and online shopping was at the forefront of the retail industry. Now, just about every online retail store has a mobile-first website that makes it easy for users to navigate and make purchases. Many retailers even have their own app, further enabling customers to easily purchase from them using just their smartphone.

Most of us live our lives with our smartphone in hand. It’s how we keep in contact with loved ones, stay up to date with the news, stream shows and shop. In the future, retail will become even more smartphone focused, for both customers and retailers. More stores will utilise smartphone technology to enable store employees to better assist customers and to aid the customer journey in-store. We’re also likely to see more retailers making use of smartphones not only for online and in-store purchasing, but as a medium for sharing exclusive deals and events as well as personalised offers with shoppers. Expect to see smartphone integration with social media becoming ever more important too, as both consumers and brands share and disseminate content on these channels.

Further Examples of AI
AI is already present in retail and some retailers are standing out with their offering of AI product suggestions and sizing guides for customers. With AI, retailers can understand the interests of a shopper based on their social media profiles, order and browsing history. Harnessing artificial intelligence in ways such as these allows retailers to suggest a product to shoppers without having to physically communicate with them. Furthermore, the personalisation possibilities here are endless. Going forward, more retailers will take advantage of this technology to better understand their shoppers and use it to continue to build towards the goal of true omni-channel retail, and augment the personal service that can be delivered by associates in-store.

Customer Driven Developments
The ability to understand customers more accurately will push retailers to develop more innovative technologies and services that are driven by the shopper’s needs. By observing shopper behaviour and studying the data that reveals their habits, we will see groundbreaking examples of the industry creating solutions for shoppers based on their existing habits, needs and desires. This could cover everything from payment provision and product recommendations to packaging preferences and delivery options. For retailers, being able to understand what a brick and mortar shopper is considering purchasing and harnessing more data about their journey in-store will open up huge opportunities for developing an improved experience for their customers.

Overall, the future of retail will be personalised and geared towards better understanding exactly what the shopper wants and how to deliver it to them. While retailers have always strived to achieve this, until now we’ve never been in an age where the technology exists to enable us to make it a reality. Now we are, and it will be fascinating to see how the retail landscape develops over the next decade.