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 Andrew Busby, Founder and CEO of Retail Reflections
**This interview was conducted prior to the Coronavirus outbreak**
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
AB: The retail industry is the most exciting and dynamic sector of all, it is the one which is most relevant to all of us and the one which is most evident in our lives. We are on the brink of a customer-led revolution, one which will see better online experiences, amazing, immersive stores and predictive personalisation which will bring real value to our lives.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
AB: The very definition of retail has undergone and continues to undergo huge transformation. For example, social commerce is playing an increasingly important part in many people’s lives. But by far the most dramatic change is the way in which legacy retailers are being eroded. Their business models are no longer fit for purpose and the younger, more agile retail brands are steadily taking their customers.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
AB: The Samsung store in Manhattan and the Canada Goose store in Montreal have one thing in common. Neither carry any stock. This will become the norm as the role of the store moves from selling to media.
There will, of course, be less stores but in order to survive those which remain will need to be far better than those of today. They will become an amalgam of experiences taking cues from other sectors such as entertainment, hospitality and even museums
Brick and mortar stores will increasingly turn to becoming a very human experience. Technology will play a part but only in making the customer journey easier and more convenient.
Retailers will become obsessive over how their customers navigate and shop their physical stores, using all kinds of tracking mechanisms to better understand our buying behaviour. They will collect masses of data to support the growth of the new generation of stores.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
AB: It actually won’t be technology which will have the biggest impact, it will be a return to human first, technology second. But if I was to pick just one it would have to be AI. This will become pervasive right through the entire operation from supply chain, demand and inventory management to call centres to stores.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
AB: The future is bright for those which remain. Store associates will, of course, see their roles changed to the role of trusted advisor. The mundane in-store tasks will be automated freeing staff up to focus fully on the customer. We will undoubtedly see many different examples of experiences and there will likely be many different formats tried and tested to gauge customer reaction. As we roll back from online and digital, stores will find a new purpose and lease of life as media rather than sales first outlets.