We have spotted 6 trends that we believe will shape the store of the future.
1. Borrowing and renting over purchasing
From car sharing to file streaming, people are consuming more while at the same time owning less. Electronics stores have seen a sharp increase in mobile device rental programs. The planned obsolescence – that is, the short life span due to the continuous release of novelty – of electronics items has pushed consumers to ask themselves why they should pay for the latest devices when they are going to become outdated within the next year or so. By leasing technological items, people save money and are ready to upgrade as soon as a new, hot gadget comes out.
2. Customer experience, not sales, will measure success
The store of the future won’t measure success in sales per square foot or sales per associate. Rather, the focus will be on the customers’ experience: How do customers navigate the store? Where do they stop? What do they look at, what do they touch? How many experiences does the store offer per square foot?
3. “Brand advocates” will replace buyers
The emphasis will shift from acquiring new customers to nurturing current ones, in an attempt to transform them into faithful disciples of the brand. “Brand advocates”, that is to say, loyal fans who are vocal in praising and defending their favorite brands. These faithful customers also are the best form of advertisement for a company. Nurture them, and make your physical store the center of gravity for the community around your brand.
4. Empowered staff on the shop floor
The store of the future will not employ uninspired, low-wage clerks. In order to be able to properly assist and inspire customers, staff members will be engaged and empowered. Technology will help: the best stores already arm their employees with mobile POS, so that staff members can satisfying customers’ need for immediate access to data by giving them up-to-date information on products and inventory levels while on the shop floor.
5. In-store digitalization
Modern customers are used to shopping online. Increasingly, they demand that their in-store experience be as smooth and interconnected as online shopping.
From virtual mannequins and changing rooms in fashion stores, to personal scanners attached to the trolley in supermarkets, to beacon technology, retailers have already started integrating digital solutions into their physical stores.
The shop of the future will take digitalization to a new level, for instance transforming shop windows into vending machines from which customers can buy at all hours – making the physical store as flexible and available as the mobile and e-commerce channels.
For the modern consumer, one size definitely does not fit all. Millennials in particular increasingly look for products and services that are tailored to their individual tastes and lifestyles. Some online and physical stores already allow consumers to create and modify products using personal designs. Retailers of the future will need to ensure this possibility – making sure that their supply chains, too, can handle the growing demand for custom orders.
Stores have already started the transformation to the future: from locations to purchase staff, they are becoming entertainment centers, which customers visit to experience the brand.
In the years ahead, stores will also become points of collaboration where consumers can join experts to co-create, design, build and customize unique items. The experience of making will be as important as the final product.
Online and mobile stores may be the cause of death of average retailers; however, for outstanding shops this is a chance to rise. Do not wait for the wave to reach you: every business can be innovated.
In the road to the future, think about how you can transform your store to meet new demands using
- desire to provide delightful and surprising experiences to the customers, again and again
- willingness to reinvent yourself and your business.