The retail industry is undergoing some pretty fundamental changes, and recently I had an experience that brought this home for me. Late last year I went into a well known store at my local mall. I found the item I wanted and I asked the clerk if they had it in stock. She told me that the items in the store were there for display only and that I could order the item by using their in-store online portal. Welcome to the new world of retail! Online shopping is growing approximately 15% per year and now represents 11.3% of total retail sales. This trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future and traditional retailers are scrambling to adjust to this new world. So what does the future of shopping look like? I did some research and here are a few trends the experts are predicting:
- Consumers will increasingly use physical stores as a way to check out the product they're interested in before purchasing the product online. Retailers are ramping up their online capabilities in order to entice you to make the purchase on their website. Sales Associates with computer tablets will become a common site.
- If traveling to a physical store location, consumers will expect an experience they can't get online, such as live music, product demonstrations, smart mirrors, etc.
- On Demand shopping will become more prevalent, through the use of digital assistants such as Amazon's Echo or Google Assistant. Recently I asked Alexa to order more tea for us and it arrived in a couple of days.
- Automated purchasing of frequently ordered items is growing. For example Amazon Dash allows consumers to order hundreds of items such as laundry detergent, pet food, beverages or toiletries by simply pressing a single button. Some manufacturers, such as Whirlpool have taken this trend even further by sensing when you will need more detergent based on consumption and placing an order automatically.
- Some companies are reinventing the entire retail experience. For example at the new Amazon Go market you simply pick up your item and go. Check out the video below.
The digital and physical worlds are becoming increasing intermingled, and as long as this continues to offer consumers better prices and more choice, I'm O.K. with that.