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 Lauren Davitt, Vice President, PRS IN VIVO Luxury Practice
** This interview was conducted prior to the Coronavirus outbreak**
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
LD: The role brands and retailers can take to make a real impact on consumers’ lives. These aren’t just products that fulfill a need or make our lives easier anymore, but rather brands can be active contributors to enhancing wellbeing and communities and helping to create connections between people. Consumers don’t just accept that brands have an influence anymore, they expect that they have a higher purpose, particularly from the leading innovators.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
LD: The sheer number of players that brands must compete with, both online and brick and mortar, combined with advancements in technology have led to a dramatic raise in the bar for the client experience. Satisfaction is simply not enough to deliver anymore for customers. Instead, these trends have forced – and will continue to force – companies to find ways to connect with consumers beyond the product and deliver emotional benefits.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
LD: Sustainability: Historically this is an area fashion and Luxury companies have not received high marks, but progress is being made. Brick and mortar will be one component in the brand’s sustainability message. Related, secondhand and resale will also be something Luxury brands will need to be more systematically addressing.
Use of AR/AI technologies: While already changing the landscape, it will continue to do so as brands seek to innovate with how these technologies can enhance the store experience. It will be important to remember, technology should be used with purpose. We need to keep central the fact that it is the consumer who is the end user, and retailers should design the technology experience with that in mind. Knowing your consumers and how they behave will be crucial.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
LD: AI and other technologies that allow retailers and staff to have customer information at their fingertips, with the intent to personalize the experience for the customer. It will impact how consumers interact with staff and brand in the store, online, within their homes… and ultimately it can be a key differentiator for retailers that get it right.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
LD: Brick and mortar will continue to play an important role in helping to tell the brand’s story and creating a connection with customers. Online presence will most certainly continue to increase, but that doesn’t mean it will replace physical stores, as they serve different objectives. Rather they will start to find even further synergies for a more seamless experience. As humans first and consumers second, we all seek human connection and brick and mortar will still be a key way to provide this.