What is the Future for Retail?

Couple link arms shopping in shopping centre

In a world that is becoming increasingly immersed in the realms of all things digital, major changes are occurring across almost all industries globally. Retail is no exception to this; its definitive features are already being affected by this current boom in digital technology and behavioural changes. But what does the future hold in store for the retail industry, and what will these changes mean for the industry as a whole?

Three of the biggest ways in which the retail industry has, and looks to continue to change include:

1.   Speed in production

2.   Increase in the digital

3.   Sustainability

These major changes to retail, whilst redefining many of its distinctive features, are also signs of its continuous innovation;keeping up with the ever-evolving ways in which consumers buy, discover and ultimately engage with and treat their products.

Speed in Production in Retail

With the increasingly rapid rate of fashion trends facilitated by the immediacy of social media and the online world, retailers are having to develop and push out products at an increasingly quicker pace in order to keep on-trend and stay in the race with their competitors.

Retailers have been able to keep up with this quick pace due to innovations in 21st Century AI (artificial intelligence)technology; allowing them to both analyse and organise inventories and finances more time and cost efficiently than ever before. Also, with changes in the industry being picked up on much faster than ever before, through social media,AI and more, retailers are finding themselves needing to keep up with faster-emerging trends continuously.

Increase in the Use Digital Platforms and Technology

Increasingly, larger parts of the retail industry have already and will continue to move to digital platforms and solutions. Retailer swill continue to integrate more AI technology to help them keep up with the fast-pace nature of the online world. Amazingly, this has the power not just to discover new trends, but to also influence and form opinions and trends through the much faster dissemination of information and fashion.

Many bricks-and-mortar retailers will, if they have not already, develop an online presence advertising their products and stores whilst also providing customers with the chance to order their goods and services directly from their website.

In addition to this, some experts in the field, such as head of EMEA partnerships at Google Florence Diss, predict that paying for things will become a thing of the past. Ms Diss predicts that the future of the retail payment system will operate much like Uber, in which the retailers will already have your card details, and take the money for your purchases out of the chosen bank account automatically.

Sustainability in Fashion

With global warming becoming an increasingly pressing issue, businesses from across all industries are being urged to reduce their damaging impact on the environment in order to help save the planet. As the issue of global warming becomes an increasingly relevant and pressing topic, being conscious of your carbon footprint has now also become quite on-trend, with numerous different influencers dedicating a lot of their platform content on promoting environmental sustainability.

In both a bid to help save the planet, and also to be in-keeping with the latest sustainability trends, retailers are taking measures to help reduce their impact on the environment and pushing out publicised campaigns as a result of this. Many retailers are now recycling much of their waste materials, trying to reduce the amount of plastic used throughout their business and production lines.

Whilst trends may come and go, particularly in the fast-pace nature of the online world, sustainability is something that is set in the future of retail. Developing more sustainable products will be absolutely necessary in order to help preserve the future of the planet, and will therefore always remain an “on-trend” topic.

What Does the Future of Retail Hold for Bricks-and-Mortar Shops?

Although the retail industry as a whole is progressively moving further into the digital, and thus online world, this by no means will result in the end of bricks-and-mortar shops. Many in the industry support this notion, and further predict that physical shops will stop becoming a purely transactional service, and instead move into a more relational practice.

Retail brands, it is predicted, will use their physical spaces to develop relationships with their customers, allowing them to physically connect with both the products and representatives of the brand. The offline shops will help businesses in retail to strengthen the consumer-brand relationship, and overall to help promote the brand as a reputable and accommodating organisation.

Retail businesses can use their physical spaces to develop a face for the brand. Many shops create a unique and stylish design to their offline spaces in order to promote their brand. Paying attention to a shop's design will help to promote a brand in two major ways:

Attracting Surrounding Customers – Simple yet effective; having an attractive shop will attract customers from off the street. Improving visibility, brand awareness and sales.

Giving a Stylish Face to the Brand – By having a great-looking shop, this will not only attract more customers in, but also promote the brand name associated with the beautiful interior design.

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