Brick-and-mortar retail is not going away anytime soon. As the economy rebounds from the pandemic, retailers will need to consider ways to evolve their physical locations to integrate with a seamless omnichannel experience for their customers. Adopting new technologies can be costly but are necessary if retailers want to compete in emerging e-commerce markets.
Customers are driven toward ease and convenience, and certain technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics, are already being applied to improve the in-store experience for shoppers.
Other retailers and service providers are focusing on increasing perceived social presence. Amazon Go stores, for example, allow customers to easily pick up products without having to stop at the checkout (AI and cameras capture the transaction and bill the customer), increasing convenience. H&M has voice-activated interactive mirrors in its flagship store in New York City. If someone looks in the mirrors long enough, the mirrors ‘wake up’ and offer selfies, fashion tips, and discounts.
Over the next 15 to 20 years, the market predicts that two types of physical retail stores will dominate buying power: the highly digitized Convenience Store, and the Experiential Centre, with both serving as gold mines for data and customer insights.