FlavorCloud CEO Rathna Sharad Shares her Views on the Future of Retail

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 FlavorCloud CEO Rathna Sharad.

What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?

RS: Retail is going through a massive transformation at this time. It’s really exciting to see consumer and brand connections evolve to a deeper, more meaningful one  – whether it is being driven by shared values, sustainability, transparency, etc.

You can see this unfold with the explosion of DTC brands in every consumer category and not just domestically but also in cross border ecommerce.

What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?

RS: Digitally native, and ecommerce savvy DTC brands are ushering in a new era of retail where the barriers to entry into new markets are removed, making it easy to reach their ideal consumer anywhere. Brands are being forced to think and act global because their consumers are borderless.

They are also able to deeply understand, measure and react to their customer, personalizing interactions. I think we will see a lot more innovation in this front in the next 3 years.

What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?

RS: We’re seeing a big change in how supply chains are transforming to support the surge in ecommerce. Traditional B2B manufacturing timelines are rapidly shifting to shorter cycles to keep up with consumption patterns where everything becomes obsolete by the time it enters the market.

There’s also new opportunities available for brands to optimize their supply chains to sell globally from anywhere – whether it is from a country where their products are being manufactured or regional warehouses for expedited deliveries or handling returns. This enables brands to optimize their unit economics depending on how trade and tariff regulations shift, and manufacturing needs change, while also accounting for reducing carbon footprint with efficient networks

What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?

RS: Greener, optimized and highly efficient supply chains are the future of trade and commerce. I think we will see a dramatic shift in this direction in every consumer category.

What’s the future of brick and mortar retail? 

RS: It used to be that when a brand decided to operate in a new market, that required a ton of work – setup of legal entities, operational infrastructure, hiring of local talent etc. before they could prove out adoption. Now, it  is a lot easier to simply experiment with global shipping, gather insight on customers and use insights to easily expand to markets that convert well. Perhaps even leading to a brick and mortar store.