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 Lauri Kien Kotcher, friendly CEO of Hello Products.
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
LK: The speed with which the industry is changing is unlike anything I have ever seen- people are shifting their interests so fast based on the digital information trove – reviews, digital advertising, and social media – have armed consumers with so much information that they are exploring and trying new brands at a rate never seen before. And retailers are moving faster than ever to try out new brands, especially online, in order to make their shopping experience unique and more interesting. And the importance of brands is growing – shoppers still really care about brands that they can identify with and which speak to them on an emotional level.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
LK: People are becoming more thoughtful about everything! Interest in the personal care category is being reinvigorated primarily through innovation by smaller companies and especially in the natural segment. As modern shoppers continue to look at ingredient statements across various categories, and as awareness of oral health as it relates to whole-body health continues to grow, we see interest in oral care with more natural and highly efficacious ingredients accelerating. We see smaller brands continually taking share from big brands in every personal care category as people shift to being ever more thoughtful about all their “stuff”. It is not just millennials and millennial families – it is a psychographic switch among shoppers of all ages.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
LK: A truly seamless online/offline experience will be critical. The smartphone has become such an integral part of the shopping experience. Consumers check their phones constantly for reviews and information on a brand’s website as they are making decisions in store. QR codes are still relevant – hello is using a QR code to give consumers information about the CBD quality in our CBD line of products so they can feel confident as they make a purchase.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
LK: AI of course and immediate delivery. Shoppers will EXPECT instant gratification and a truly personalized experience. They will expect brands and retailers to KNOW them.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
LK: There is always room for new and exciting retail formats – especially ones that are both brick and mortar and online. The best retailers/brands, even those that began as DTC only, are realizing that brick and mortar is still critical so that people can experience the brand IRL, even if they come back and purchase online. A seamless omnichannel experience with a clear strategic role for each channel will be the winning formula in the near future. Many younger brands that began online only have created compelling experiential and bespoke shopping opportunities IRL that help shoppers identify with their brands as a lifestyle choice. This is happening in so many categories – e.g. sleep, beauty, travel accessories, eyewear, fashion and natural personal care.