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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  What Is The Future of Retail?

What Is The Future of Retail?

Posted on October 26, 2011 and read 4,732 times

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darren1 What Is The Future of Retail?Darren Richardson
Creative Director

As advertisers, we have to study human behavior, and it’s a fascinating thing: we all act differently depending on age, gender, location and many more variables. So, the challenge to advertisers is “How do we manage to get all these different types of people to shop at your store?” Retail services and products have innovated immensely in the past decade, and consumers have had no choice but to adapt.

First of all, we need to understand how retail has evolved.

Let’s take a second to remind ourselves how a retail experience used to be:

The customer would walk into the store and up to the counter, they would be greeted by the shopkeeper and ask for the goods, the shopkeeper would in turn go and gather the goods and return to the counter.

reatil1 204x156 What Is The Future of Retail?This interaction would lead to conversation between the shopkeeper and the customer as the customer’s baskets would slowly fill up, giving our traditional shopkeeper the ability for cross selling to happen.

So, how do we purchase today?

The extreme is something like Tesco in Japan that has turned the subway walls into grocery store shelves so that the busy commuters can shop on the way to and from work and have their groceries waiting for them at home. This is a great add-on to get additional sales, but it wouldn’t stand alone without the online or real store; you have to have a strong brand and consumer trust for consumers to interact with an execution like a subway store.

Another way we shop is online: we sit for hours surfing and browsing items we covet, then we put our banking details into the world wide web and a few days later, we get our coveted goods.

Both of these lack something for me, the lack of social activity and interaction when using a mechanism like the QR Code wall in Japan, or a shopping website, which leads nicely into the real subject matter of this post.

Social Retail.

Social retail is not a new idea, sites such as ‘Go Try it On’ and ‘Honestly Now’ offer the social interaction of the old, but with a twist; you’re not asking the shopkeeper for goods, advice or “Do you have a pair of shoes that will go with this blazer?”, you’re asking your social network of ‘Friends’ for their HONEST opinions on pre or post purchases, such as a dress for that Saturday night date, or the iPhone vs. HTC.

Cross selling is actually coming from friends and family: “Great laptop Darren, I would get the MS mouse as well if I were you, it’s great.” You get the picture. Today we have more than one shopkeeper, and we can get a valued and trusted option on our purchases.

Amazon has been doing this for years with their review section. These reviews are mostly valid (I would hope), but they are not from your friends and family; this is where social retail comes to the forefront in offline retail experiences.

Are these social shopping / opinion sites good? I believe they are. Will they take off and be successful? Only time will tell, but I am not convinced. I think we have been conditioned to shop in a non-social way, via the Internet and mobile. It’s all about time – we like to shop quickly, and waiting for our friends and family’s opinion may just take a little too long and in the end, lose the sale.

retail2 134x156 What Is The Future of Retail?Saying that, I see a future where I can see a pair of trainers / sneakers on a guy walking down the street, I take a picture of them, press order and they are with me by the time I get home.

Or I order a bottle of wine at lunch, and it’s lovely so I want it at home – I scan in the barcode with my mobile and hey presto… actually, hang on…
Tesco in the UK has already started this with their scanner application, which reads the barcode of a product and adds it to your shopping basket.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

I am not saying high street shops will disappear, I am just saying that we will see quicker ways to make purchases: via mobile wallets, NFC, RFID, QR Codes, barcodes etc., so the social interaction will become less.

I also think retailers will get smarter – when we are shopping, they will look at all the opportunities to cross sell.

For example: You purchase a pair of shoes in one store, the next store knows the color and style so that they can offer you matching products. Or, the store sees you looking at a dress, you leave the store without buying it, and they continue to track your purchases to see if they can suggest others like it.

This could be the future:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

We as the consumer will be able to make the choices about how we shop, be it in-store or while we walk to work; but in the end, the retailer is one step ahead, offering us goods we didn’t even know we wanted.

  • Ged Stankus

    Your picture of the future feels like a royal pain… a constant barrage of virtual sales people harassing me while, even though I may have made a purchase at one shop, all I really want to do is leave. Ugh!
    Conversely, it would surely be nirvana for the mindless, perpetual shoppers who troll the malls in search of nothing in particular. 

  • James Richardson

    I suppose that with some filtering this might be possible, but it strikes me as being a little over-reaching. I’m not certain that people are really interested in that volume of information when they are ‘out in the world’. I’d look at this as the augmented reality version of banners – visual noise that people will begin to tune out or avoid altogether in favor of tighter more contextual experiences that align a subset of a person’s social network with the approval of a purchase – might even be an interest network vs. a social network.

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