Trend Report: The Future of Retail
By Adriane Borden
From in-store purchases to a constant state of shopping, consumers have shifted into the ability to opt in or out of purchases at any moment during their day. Shopping is no longer differentiated between online and offline locations. The retail model is moving toward a blended experience, where consumers can either explore or quickly acquire products based on their level of engagement. Brands are struggling to move their retail models at the same rate as consumer behaviors are changing. Brands and retailers must constantly enable consumers to engage in cross-platform shopping without the constraints of time or location.
Curious how this trend is coming to life today? Read on.
As consumers continue to spend less on “things” and more on experiences, retailers focus on displaying “things” in context of an experience. Retailers are finding news ways to display product nestled within a holistic lifestyle, instead of siloing products into categories.
As Cadillac aims to target younger consumers, they emphasize that purchasing a Cadillac isn’t just buying a car—it’s becoming part of an elite brand in technology, fashion, and innovation. In order to appeal to a younger audience, Cadillac has opened a hybridized store/café/gallery space called the Cadillac House. It aims to allow shoppers to experience the brand from a more lifestyle-oriented perspective.
The Kotex Period Shop is a pop-up shop in NYC that aims to make the taboo topic of menstruation approachable and fun, serving women all things comforting during an uncomfortable period. Kotex partnered with consumers to create the perfect space for that time of month: cute and comfy fashions, ice cream, mani’s & pedi’s and good music by a live DJ.
Sales figures of apparel vs. food are reflecting consumers’ desire for a holistic lifestyle experience. Apparel sales remain relatively constant in the US—experiencing just a $0.5 billion increase in 2015, compared to a $3 billion uptick in food retail during the same period. Food, and the experiences that come along with it, are becoming the new retail lifeline.
TRADING INFORMATION FOR ACCESS
In a time where digital information can put your identity at risk, consumers are still willing to trade their personal information in order to have elite access. This transaction has allowed for brands to customize an experience specifically for an individual consumer’s needs and desires.
Revolve, a fashion company with origins as an e-tailer, holds speed and automation at the core of their business. Along with other e-tail giants like Amazon, Revolve is experimenting with an offline presence to reach consumers where they live. Revolve recently debuted a showroom in LA that uses data-driven merchandising algorithms—based on insights from consumers’ online purchase histories—to help an on-site team of stylists personalize the space for each 3-4 hour personal shopping appointment.
Beauty brand L’Oréal closely monitors consumer behavior via several data sources on its app Makeup Geniusto create pertinent profiles for its users. The app records which products users are trying and buying, and takes info from on-site incentivised questionnaires. The resulting profile is built on 148 unique data points per user, which together shape the content and product recommendations that are pushed to each user.
Customer service always has been and always will be a priority for a shopper. As more purchasing is done outside the walls of a retailer, technology picks up where the shopkeeper left off. Tech is taking on human attributes when it comes to customer service. Brands are taking advantage of Twitter’s ability to track aggregated tweets, in order to assess the most advantageous moments to target consumers. For instance, when monitoring “health” vs. “indulgence” (by observing the frequency of keywords such as “super foods,” “gym,” or “diet” for the former, and “takeaway,” “cravings,” or “hangover” for the latter), Twitter’s tools can assess at what points in the week certain attitudes are peaking, and consumers subsequently likely to be most responsive—even including variations based on region.
Master scientist, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is currently building a chatbot for Google to help machines understand human language, both written and spoken. Kurzweil describes the future of AI interactions: “If you think you can have a meaningful conversation with a human, you’ll be able to have a meaningful conversation with an AI in 2029. But you’ll be able to have interesting conversations before that.”
As we move forward into this blurred world between human service and tech service, there will continue to be a fine line on the acceptance curve between the early adopting consumer and the consumer that that rejects this change.
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