This article is part of Raydiant’s Future of Brick and Mortar Retail series featuring interviews with industry experts and thought leaders with the goal of providing actionable insights that can help brick and mortar retailers prepare for what lies ahead.
The following is an interview we had with Lynn Xu, Chief of Retail Solution, Clobotics.
What are the 3-5 top trends that will shape brick and mortar retail in 2021?
LX: Uncertainty will continue to dictate 2021 but by now brick and mortar stores are much more prepared to tackle consumer stock-up, strain on supply chain, and ability to provide a safer shopping environment. After meeting basic safety and assortment needs dictated by the virus situation, retailers now need to find new differentiation other than curbside pick-up, better online capability, more secured shopping experience. Indulging categories will see a better year as people now live in the new normal and need to compensate for their restricted outdoor experience such as catering, traveling, spa, etc. Contactless technology and social commerce will continue to grow but the human nature of experiencing products and services will not subside. Brick and mortar stores have to do even better to help customers find their product and find it faster, in and out of the stores in the shortest time and least contact possible.
What technologies will have the biggest impact on brick and mortar retail in 2021?
LX: Contactless technology, digital twins, faster predictive analytics that takes sudden change into account. Computer vision that allows brands, retailers, and consumers see and act in real time or near real time.
What should brick and mortar retailers be doing now to prepare for 2021?
LX: Technology upgrade takes time and investment. It’s important to focus on how to integrate tech solutions with the existing system so that data flows to enable effective action and truly solve pain points.
In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, what’s the future of brick and mortar retail look like?
LX: Brick and mortar stores will continue to exist as the human nature of experiencing in real with 6 senses can’t be replaced online. Shopping is a social activity. Brick and mortar retail needs to provide a better experience in terms of assortment, shopping environment, shopping route, the easiness to navigate and locate a desired product, and experience of interacting with new products. At the same time, provide better and seamless offline to online such as contactless payment, contactless and on-time delivery, after-sale service, smart replenishment of household staples. Overall, brick and mortar stores will be more an experience center, the chores will be increasingly replaced by technology.