Retail 2030: the future of shopping

When it comes to shopping in 2019, customers know what they want. Today’s customers are savvy; most have researched what a store sells, product reviews and how they match up to competitors – all before they even walk in, mobiles tend to be as integral to in-store shopping as they are online. Online shopping itself has grown significantly over the last 10 years, with the biggest rise in mobile shopping. However, brick-and-mortar stores will continue to be introduced – but they must be different, adapt to customer demands and the changes in future technology to be successful. New stores emphasise experience just as much as products. Beauty retailer Glossier developed ‘Instagrammable’ stores so customers physically come in to experience and interact with the store, something that has proved successful. If shopping habits have already changed so much, the “new industrial revolution” will no doubt leave us with a completely different picture by 2030.

The web drives our wardrobes

Even in real life, “showrooming” (browsing in store and purchasing online) and “webrooming” (browsing online and purchasing in store) have allowed technology to transform every channel of the retail industry. EBay has even introduced digital store fronts, where items can be ordered via a touchscreen and delivered the same day. Millennials may not necessarily prefer online shopping, but they demand a streamlined experience – a similar level of convenience and personalisation across digital and traditional stores. The need for omnichannel selling and the availability and demand of stock is only likely to increase, offering a seamless shopping experience, whether customers are shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick-and-mortar store should be quick and simple. Developments in virtual reality and artificial intelligence will likely revolutionise the experience across platforms, it is predicted that VR technology will be used to bring the “touch” of products out of the store and into the home. Perhaps customers will be able to “try on” virtual clothing using technology such as VR headsets, they can already do so with clothing on a computer screen so expanding this service off-screen is not unrealistic.

One size won’t fit all

According to surveys, social media is the biggest influence on the products people buy. The accessibility of sites such as ASOS providing a ‘photo search’ option allows consumers to find what they saw on their favourite influencer’s Instagram page. Instagram now allows influencers to “tag” the products they are wearing, allowing these items to be introduced into customers’ wardrobes quickly and easily. This interactivity from social media will likely become more dominant in the 2030 shopping experience with the rise of influencer marketing.

The personalisation online shopping brings is desired by consumers and it will likely become more tailored to the individual both online and offline. The recommendations and remarketing that come from websites create a more exclusive experience than in-store. This has started to translate into shopping centres with Apple using Bluetooth technology to sense who is in the store. Therefore, a sensible prediction for 2030 is that we may see physical stores aligning with the personalisation of digital shopping. Facial recognition technology could be used to identify customers when they walk into a store or social media could be used for “checking in” on a mobile device to customise their in-store experience. Enhancing the levels of customer service that can be provided.  

Designing for everyone as individuals is likely to increase. For instance, gendered clothing will likely be less popular by 2030, millennials have already started to blur the boundaries, but as androgynous looks continue to rise in popularity, explicitly gendered clothing will likely be a thing of the past.

Signed, sealed and delivered

Ordering itself will likely become even easier; with the surge in popularity of voice-controlled devices such as Amazon’s Alexa being able to shop for you, this is already on its way to success. Automated purchases where deliveries are sent monthly to subscribers are already starting to increase therefore will likely continue to expand.

When it comes to delivery, it can only get faster. People already expect their products to be dispatched virtually as soon as they place their order. The rise of next-day delivery is even starting to be displaced by same-day delivery, leaving an increasingly impatient consumer. Many shoppers say they would consider deviating from a brand if they discontinued next-day delivery and by 2030 we predict the urgency for quick delivery will be even greater. Amazon are already testing using drones for delivery that would be able to cut delivery time to just half an hour, allowing dispatch times that could not be possible with delivery drivers.

Something borrowed

People are buying more clothes than ever and throwing items away after less time and this will likely continue to increase. Yet with the rise of the “green consumer” and sharing schemes across industries becoming more popular, there is likely to be an opportunity for the rental industry. Platforms such as “Rent the Runway” are already successful in 2019 but if this enters the mainstream, 2030 may see rental schemes co-existing alongside the usual product ranges in most high street stores.

The future starts now

Despite the technological developments fuelling its interest, robots running retail is still a distant possibility. However, retail is changing and the move towards a personalised and convenient experience that integrates platforms together is already becoming a reality. Customers expect a lot from a brand now and this expectation will only continue to increase as technology becomes more dominant and trends in sustainability increase.

Martin Schofield, Retail247 CEO added, “Retailers are continually looking for the next ‘hook’, the unique enticement that brings the cash laden consumer within striking distance. Evolving retail channels, increased competition and the incredible pace of technological change have accelerated this desire. We also see an ever increasing void between the ‘utility’ and the ‘experience’, the Primark to the Prada; both camps look to technology for competitive advantage and improved customer experience but with a different emphasis. Retail will inevitably continue to experiment; the only constant being the ever evolving shopping experience.”

Is your business ready for the future? The virtual world and the real world are already connected, and this will likely only increase. If you need support with the challenges of shopper engagement and the opportunities this changing environment will bring you, talk to the Retail247 team today.