What does the future look like for the retail industry?

  • Written by Bethany Stevenson
  • Published on 14 August 2018
  • Our Voice

The retail industry is ever changing, as consumers are increasingly influencing business operations. With the growth of digitisation and automation, retailers are having to take action to ensure that they’re not being left behind. But what can we expect the future to look like?

Brand Ambassadors

According to Drapers; future high street retailers will use emotional intelligence and experiences to connect with consumers as opposed to traditional brick and mortar premises available purely for purchasing.

The way consumers use retail has changed. What is important from a consumer point of view are one to one sessions that didn’t exist apart from in travel agents five years ago. We are finding people come to get the full service.

Ed Sellick
Director of Asset Management at Hermes Investment Management

The retail industry has already started to shift toward more ethical and sustainable practices and as time goes on, this will only continue at an exponential rate. With more access to information, consumers are being educated on the impacts that their buying habits are having on the world around them. In order for the retailers to succeed, they need to become market leaders and provide an experience where consumers can shop easily and conveniently without the worry of the cause and effects it may have on the environment and to victims of Modern Slavery.

New Innovations and Technologies 

Recently Fashion United published an article unveiling Westfield’s innovative plans for ‘Destination 2028’. Reading about the new concept described as a "hyper-connected micro-city," it is obvious that the technological advances we have witnessed in retail in recent years, are not about to slow down. 

The plans consist of hanging sensory gardens, artificial intelligence infused walkways, magic mirrors in smart changing rooms that give shoppers virtual reflections of themselves and smart loos that detect hydration levels and nutritional needs. In addition to this, there will be eye scanners recalling information on entry, identifying each visitors’ previous purchases and offering them recommendations for personalised fast-lanes. It doesn’t stop there either – there will be allotments and farms for visitors to pick their own produce for their meals, and much more.

What does this mean for retailers now?

I, for one, cannot wait for the unveiling of Westfield’s Destination 2028 (and not just because it’s an excuse to go shopping) but 10 years is a long time to wait for change. Change needs to happen now. Brands and retailers need to get on board and start moving toward digitisation and automation in order to keep up with how rapidly the industry is going to evolve.

According to a Hitachi Solutions report, 54% of those surveyed deemed responding to digital disruption to be “business critical”. Whilst digitisation and innovation may not currently be a priority, it should be. Keeping up with the latest trends is essential for retailers operating in today’s digitised world.

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