LONDON—The key to retail’s future isn’t in sales or products, but in reinterpretation of the shopping experience through innovation, CNBC reports. For a while, stores have attracted customers by creating in-store experiences. Since the coronavirus pandemic upended shopping habits, retailers need to become even more innovative to bring in customers to physical locations.
“It’s not just an exchange of goods anymore,” said Kristina Rogers, consumer global leader at EY. To know how to reach today’s consumer, retailers need to understand their customers and what they want. As an example, Rogers pointed to Target’s decision to allocate more space in its stores for Apple products. “They’re recreating a ‘mini mall’ within their store,” she said.
Another way stores can be successful in the future is to continually bring in new products. “Undoubtedly, there will be less physical stores as we move forward,” said Matt Clark, managing director at AlixPartners. “But the stores that remain will need to offer an even greater experience and an additional set of services, as well as just the ability to buy products.”
Pop-up stores within a store can highlight a certain product or line temporarily. “One of the prime opportunities for pop-up shops are to create new opportunities for exploration,” said Alex Cohen, a commercial property expert at Compass.
Exclusivity has been gaining popularity among consumers as well. “The whole idea of exclusivity is really important. The fact that a pop-up will expire … creates in the consumers kind of an excitement. ‘Wow, if I don’t check out this pop-up retail offering ... in the next three months, it is going to go away, I will never be able to see it,’” he said.
For retailers, sustainability can also tap into consumer interest by stocking brands that support sustainable practices as well as providing in-store services, such as recycling. “The sustainability movement really highlights one of the core dichotomies…” said Clark. “The value versus values debate: the need to be really, really clear on your sustainability credentials, ethical sourcing, etc. but at the same time offering great value for money that doesn’t just mean cheapness but value for money to the consumers.”
After a pandemic-induced hiatus, sustainability concerns are back on the agenda for retailers as NACS Magazine reports in “Back on the Plastic Attack” in the April 2021 issue.
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