As worry about returning to stores begins to ease and new forms of shopping and fulfillment rise in popularity, experts around the world have tried to predict where the future of retail will go next. Consumer expectations have changed, and the outlook on mobile checkouts, omnichannel shopping, and online customer experiences are among the key topics retailers are focused on.
Let’s take a look at what some of the top experts and analysts in the retail industry have to say about the future of retail:
Are we shifting away from or toward brick-and-mortar stores?
- “We see the future being two things: being mostly retail stores, because the client experience in a retail store cannot be matched easily online. As of today, I mean, no one has found the sort of miracle formula that would enable clients to enjoy as much online.”
- Jean Jacques Guiony, CFO at LVMH
- “Are we over-stored? Oh, sure, we’re over-stored. It’s not a big news flash that America has too many malls, too many stores. And people are online more. Now, are there going to be no stores? Well, of course not. There’s times where, especially what we sell, people like to touch, feel the sizes. I think it’s interesting that our online returns, the vast majority of customers choose to come in a store to do it. We have free shipping on our online returns. But they’d rather come to a store; it’s just easier than putting it in a box. So customers are going to do what they want to do. Our job is not to try to coerce them into a channel or a certain experience that we prefer. Our challenge is to give them options and let them do what they want to do.”
- Erik Nordstrom, CEO of Nordstrom
How heavily should we invest in personalization?
- “I also think personalized fulfillment is a 2030 concept that might even come earlier: How do I, as Kelsey, want to have my products delivered, and how does a retailer actually know that in advance and get them more quickly to the exact door or location, either through their own channels or through partner channels?”
- Kelsey Robinson, Partner at McKinsey & Company
- “Our stores provide customers the opportunity to see and touch products, ask questions, get advice and receive support. As we have discussed many times, they also serve an important role in the fulfillment of online sales. We have created what we believe to be an industry-leading store pickup experience that our customers value and now expect from us.”
- Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy
- “There is a real redefinition in how retailers use their physical spaces. It’s not just an exchange of goods anymore. Retailers have to understand who their customers are and what these [customers] want.
- Kristina Rogers, Consumer Global Leader at EY
How important is the overall customer experience?
- “We are convinced that our great brands at great values concept is an enduring retail formula that we will continue to be a major draw for consumers. Our surveys tell us that our customers love our differentiated treasure hunt shopping experience and we are convinced that this will continue to service extremely well when more consumers are comfortable shopping our stores. We believe our value proposition gives consumers a compelling reason to shop us in this environment and will continue to attract shoppers over the long-term,”
- Ernie Herrman, CEO of TJX
- “Undoubtedly there will be less physical stores as we move forward. But the stores that remain will need to offer an even greater experience and an additional set of services, as well as just the ability to buy products.”
- Matt Clark, Managing Director at AlixPartners
- The consumer experience is rapidly evolving from one that’s built upon the transactional process of in-store shopping to one that’s rooted in deep, ongoing and enriching relationships. As a retailer, you need to create an interwoven journey that’s relevant to your target consumer — and structure your channel ecosystem, e-commerce included, in a way that provides value along that journey.
- Kathy Gramling, Jeff Orschell, and Joshua Chernoff at Ernst & Young LLP
While we may not be 100% sure of what the post-pandemic future of retail holds, we do know that building seamless, customer-centric experiences is critical to staying competitive in this new digital age.
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