Future of retail: entertain traditionally, shop virtually
New technologies, augmented reality, shifts in customer behaviour and sustainability demand; is the retail ready for it?
The purpose of visiting shopping mall will not be shopping itself. The purchase processes will move online while going out there will have socialising and entertaining character. Companies have to invest to new, innovative, entertaining marketing on the places that used to be places for sale. The shopping centers will transform to the event hall inspiring customers for future purchases, like 24/7 fashion show.
Digital revolution has already been recognised by many businesses; retail has been the first one to pick up the trend. The close collaboration between the online and traditional marketing, even the digital marketing alone, have filled the daily life with known brands popping up from everywhere. Will the online promotion entirely substitute the offline? Most certainly, yes. Once the time of baby boomers and millennials, who still remember the traditional marketing tools, will pass, Z-Gen and the following generations will no longer require the old-school approaches, only augmented and personalised solutions.
At the moment, business should be ready to produce the high-quality content that could be reused on different platforms. As it was mentioned before in Tragedy of Advertisement, the content can travel online around the globe the way the company will have no control over it. That is the reason the position of digital and other branches of marketing management evolves into Content Manager, who's responsibility is to produce the promotional content, which may be reused in different channels with equal effectiveness.
Oculus Headset or just Google Cardboard present buyers the way how their houses will look like with new furniture or renovation. Ikea has partnered with Airbnb providing the furniture and designing the rented flats like from Ikea Lookbook. But Lowe has gone further. Lowe's Holoroom is the first project introduced by Lowe's Innovation Lab in 2014. Making the science fiction real, they have created a room that can be fully personalised and used for retail promotion purposes. Clients can design own rooms, like bathroom or kitchen, and view it in the Holoroom using a tablet, Oculus Rift headset in the store, or even at home using Google Cardboard viewer. This experience helps buyers not just to imagine, but actually to see how Lowe's products will fit into their houses. Lowe's Holoroom offers what every customer wishes - the look at the end result, at the future.
However, having the access to the virtual reality at home, would people to the real stores in future? Will there be a need to get up from the sofa, if everything you would like to see can be real by putting the headset on? If the answer will be no, the future of retail is not in the traditional or even online shopping, but in augmented reality. We might not be yet ready for such the cardinal change, but next generations might have a different point of view.
In London, Helsinki, New York and other busy cities the grocery shopping is changing dramatically. Instead of shopping the products, cafes and restaurants sell the recipes and weekly menus. Customers choose the menu designed for the two or four people, and the products with the detailed cooking instruction are delivered to the house. This way customers can still enjoy the process of cooking and have a variety of tastes and cuisine daily from the worldwide best chefs.
The connected online and classical retail, merging the digital and real worlds, enhances customer experience. The web services save the valuable customer's time and improve their productivity. Isn't satisfying client's need the primary aim to accomplish? Implementing smart online solutions, some grocery shops have developed the order online - pick up in the shop service. Inspired by online opportunity and latest customer trends, Wallmart has launched new pick up and delivery service. Clients can make an order online, choose the most suitable timeslot and the order will be loaded straight into the car at the local Wallmart. Just imagine the future, when making an order online, and on the way from work you stop by next to the shop to pick up the grocery bag. The smart app will show you the parking slot booked especially for you. Using Internet of Things, the car will signal the store that you will be in the parking lot in 2 min, ensuring that your order will be delivered to your car just on a time of arrival. Alternatively, products can be delivered right to your doorstep, but it is less intriguing, isn't it?
Not only the customer connectivity with the brand is what determines the future of retail, but also the seamless retail partnership with entertainment actors, for example. Continuing the grocery theme, the application in which customer will order the products may be connected with a cooking app. Requesting the special event menu, like romantic dinner or family evening, the customer can choose the most suitable option from the list. Moreover, the cooking apps can be connected with the health app and offer the best personalised diet solution for customer himself and his guests or family taking the allergies in consideration as well. This way the trip to shop will be a seamless chain benefiting and enhancing the customer experience.
How will we
shop the clothes
Fashion retail as any other goes online and implements the smart technologies in the stores. First, the seamless transition between the online glancing and actual shopping experience. Customers get a chance to choose the piece of cloth in the smartphone or on the website, order it right away or try it in the shop first. Requesting online to hold the item in the particular local retail, the customer will be sure that the wished pair of pants will wait for him or her. Collecting the data from customer's phone, shopping assistant will be able to offer the best option. It will be possible using Big Data and analysing what person has bought and liked before, his/hers size and style, as well as existing wardrobe.
Major European online retailer, Zalando has announced the new future strategy: transformation to the fashion technology house with data science at its core. “In ten years you might not have smartphones, but I’m pretty sure you will have clothes on”. Robert Gentz believes that the online clothing and shoe business will continue to grow. “I love fashion, because everyone needs it”. According to Gertz, more than half of the website visits are done from the mobile phones. However, most of the purchases are conducted using computers. PwC reports that this is happening because mobile screen size is small. And here Roberts gets it right. If today people don't shop from mobile, in future we will use smart watches with screen smaller in times. Therefore, Zalando challenges future need already today.
Reinventing the purpose of traditional stores, retailers bring entertaining dashes in the shopping centers. Some stores are working on implementing the smart mirror-display. Ralf Lauren in Bloomingdale in Manhattan has installed six interactive windows for Fathers Day engaging shoppers on-the-go. Using the touchscreen tablet on the street side, shoppers could browse, personalize, choose and check out gifts for dad. “We wanted to create an interactive experience that would literally make you stop in your tracks with something theatrical and mesmerizing,” said David Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s Executive Vice President of global advertising, marketing and corporate communications.
Same experience will be brought straight to the fitting rooms. Shopper will be able to request the different size, colour or another piece of clothes with the touch of the finger on the mirror. The Smart Mirror will have the data on which size are available and which other accessories will suit to the chosen outfit. Also, the interactive fitting room will connect to the shopper's social media enabling a customer to send the pictures and advice with friends and family.
Another trend that changes the fashion retail as it is is gender equality. #Agender or unisex fashion is gaining momentum requesting the retail to submit. In March 2015, Selfridges has launched six weeks pop-up gender neutral store.Three floors of the retail giant have been transformed presenting unisex fashion collections. Later this year, Diesel got agender collection on the road as well as other leading fashion houses worldwide. With the strengthening equality not only fashion changes but also the approach of fashion retail. The attention and messages will shift towards men or become same for both genders.
Retail submits to changes faster than any other branch. Digitalisation, personalisation, omnichannel, customer trends, augmented reality already figuring the way to benefit buyers and businesses. On retail example, it is easy to see that the future arrives faster than one can expect and those who do not evolve on time are lost in the past.