This article is part of Raydiant’s new Future of Retail series which interviews the world’s leading retail experts to better understand how the industry has evolved and most importantly, where it’s headed.
The following is from an interview with Amanda Watts, Founder of Sheau.
**This interview was conducted prior to the Coronavirus outbreak**
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
AW: Consumer behaviors and expectations are changing rapidly. And while that puts significant pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers to adapt, it also creates an opportunity for visionary store concepts to take center stage. I’m excited to see the innovative physical spaces that emerge as buyer preferences continue to shift more and more towards experiences.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
AW: Technology has completely changed the way we shop and transformed the role of brick-and-mortar space. The legacy retail model, where stores exist only to sell goods, fails in a world where products can easily be purchased online with just a couple of clicks. In today’s digital economy, selling is no longer enough. To drive traffic and boost loyalty, brick-and-mortar retailers need to create environments that engage, educate, entertain, and promote discovery.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
AW: The domination of experiential retail is only just beginning. The more time we spend behind screens, the more we are going to crave face-to-face interactions. Brick-and-mortar retailers have the opportunity to capitalize on our growing demand for social engagement by turning their stores into community hubs. Over the coming years, a higher percentage of retail square footage will be dedicated to in-store activations that empower brands to connect with customers at a deeper level.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
AW: The most important technologies will be the ones that help brick-and-mortar businesses maximize the value of their physical space with immersive, interactive, and sharable experiences. Retailers need to be able to easily discover and seamlessly collaborate with like-minded brand partners to create activations that engage their shared audience. As pop-ups, panels, workshops, fitness classes, and art exhibits continue to energize in-store environments, the technology enabling the coordination of these events will be increasingly critical. That’s why we built Sheau.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
AW: The future of retail is experience-centric not product-centric. Physical spaces need to be interesting and dynamic in order to persuade shoppers to come back again and again. The retailers focused on creating experiential activations that tap into their customer’s interests, passions, and innate desire for social connection will be the industry leaders. The retailers that fail on this front will continue to see foot traffic fade away.