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 a recent interview with Sherene Hilal, SVP Marketing & Business Operations at Bluecore.
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
SH: The sheer volume of customer data and transactions in retail, coupled with the emergence of the hyperadoptive consumer, gives way to speed of innovation and technology adoption unlike any other industry. In retail, if you are even a year behind, you risk becoming totally obsolete. This has become super clear with the emergence of digitally native D2C retailers, especially when you look at the traditional retailers they’ve displaced on the Digital Commerce 360 list. This makes the retail industry a super exciting place to be, especially when you have the ability to speed up the evolution of some of the more traditional brands to thrive even among the new wave of brands.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
SH: Countless mission-driven digitally native brands emerging and completely disrupting traditional retail. With Amazon’s market cap taking over Walmart, there was a clear shooting star for retailers to eye around addressing the consumer demand for convenience – that, plus a need to feel connected to a brand brought to life the Warby Parker and Glossier’s of the world. These digitally native brands set a new standard for retail, forcing traditional brands to rethink the approach of product development, marketing, loyalty, and promotion.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
SH: Concept stores will become more prevalent, whether as standalone pop-ups or stitched into existing retail stores. These stores are marketing tools vs. channels of commerce. Traditional brick and mortar is too much of a cost center with limited inventory, and personalization. Stores focused on discovery, community, and showrooms will replace the traditional approach. We are already seeing this trend with Nordstrom’s partnership with Glossier, Casper, and Away.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
SH: Retail-specific AI will have the biggest impact on the retail industry – whether it be AI stylists for fashion brands like Stitch Fix or goals-based AI that prioritizes and optimizes the best content, recommendations, offers for each specific shopper in digital channels – this is where the biggest opportunity lies for brands to grow over the next 3-5 years. Retail-specific AI supports a direct-to-consumer approach, which yields a 5:1 ROI on channel spend, compared to 2:1 for typical retailers – this is essential to compete and meet the demands of shoppers.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
SH: Brick and mortar retail is not going away. It still produces ~89% of sales for retail, and while e-commerce is gaining more traction, the sheer fact is, many retailers are tied to space and building leases that will not expire for years and must be utilized in some way, shape. or form. We will see these spaces transform to attract the hyperadoptive consumer in ways mentioned above.