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 Debra Templar, Founder and Owner of The Templar Group
**This interview was conducted prior to the Coronavirus outbreak**
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
DT: The individuality of smart, small retailers excites me. The fact they understand the importance of their customers and do everything in their power to excite and delight them. I love how they aren’t trying to simply be small BIG retailers. I’m sure they watch on in delight as big retailers try desperately to emulate them in attempting to give off that local, small business vibe.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
DT: The most dramatic change I’ve seen in the industry is the power of social media. Our retailers now have full control over their branding and story – they simply need to take it. Retail bricks and mortar offers now need to be Instagrammable with solid stories showcasing the brand, culture, and product. Customers choose how they shop – instore, website or social shopping. All three need to be in place to give a seamless experience to the customer. Whether its purchase on the day, fast delivery or click and collect – all need to be part of the retail mix and social media lets us tell our customers. We’re in charge of our own media.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
- Ability to offer seamless shopping – no matter the platform.
- Acceptance of all forms of payment ie Apple Pay, Shop Now Pay Later platforms and whatever else surfaces in the years ahead.
- A push for sustainability and knowledge of where and how products are made and letting customers know
- Diversification of product lines – not relying on majority of products coming from one country. The coronavirus situation has shown the weakness in putting all eggs in one basket – when manufacturing is closed down, retailers end up with no, or late, stock.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
DT: AI (Artificial Intelligence). AI can help retailers in inventory management and restocking by crunching large volumes of data and identifying patterns based on location, weather, sales history and other parameters. This will help in significantly cutting down costs, speed up deliveries and avoid stocking up on slow-moving items. By identifying the right items to stock during a given season, retailers can boost their sales whilst customers won’t have to worry about preferred sizes and styles not being available.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
DT: The future is all about the customer. Bricks and mortar will be the physical hub, where customers can experience the brand culture and products. Sales staff will need to be highly trained sales professionals, across all aspects of the business – social, online and in person. No more ‘that’s a different department’ routine… Service – and all that entails – will become a major differentiator for discerning customers. Retail is not dead. Mediocre retail is dead.