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 Megan McNames, Senior Product Designer at Malomo
** This interview was conducted prior to the Coronavirus outbreak**
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
MM: Retail is increasingly becoming an inclusive, co-creative experience in which brands and their customers develop deep, highly participatory relationships. Slow channels like advertisements and market studies that treat consumers as transactions have been replaced with channels that facilitate an interactive, real-time relationship – a conversation in which both brand and customer work together to shape products and experiences on the real market. Customers can now help develop – and destroy – brands and their products as they interact in real-time across hundreds or thousands of touchpoints. Brands that tap into this form of deep customer engagement create a powerful network from which to pull the insights and ideas necessary for innovation.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
MM: Customer expectations have never been higher, but at the same time positive affectivity has never had more power in the brand/customer relationship. Consumers expect retailers to provide experiences for finding, trying, buying, receiving, using and disposing of or passing on their products that maximize convenience, deliver incredible value, provide delight and align with their values. But because consumers place so much emphasis on connection and value-alignment, when they harbor positive feelings toward a retailer they are willing to work through some bumps in the experience in order to help that retailer grow and strengthen that relationship.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
MM: Every consumer sits at the center of their own experience, and brick and mortar retail will continue working toward supporting intense personalization. This will require retailers not only to create and maintain sources of truth for every customer’s interaction with their brands both physical and digital but will also necessitate offering more options for customers to find, buy, receive, use and pass on a retailer’s products. Retailers will need to be able to offer seamless experiences across these touchpoints and options such that no paths through this increasingly complex network of options result in a poor experience.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
MM: To support intense personalization, technologies that create a single view of each customer’s behavior, attitudes, and needs and that leverage a network of this information for predictive modeling will be required. Technologies that help retailers to quickly experiment with changes to their existing experience and infrastructure by tracking inputs and cross-referencing customers’ behavioral outputs will help retailers grow while they remain customer-centric.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
MM: In the future consumers won’t think about brick and mortar retail as any different from any other retail experiences. They’ll continue to develop a mental model for shopping in which every interaction with a retailer is just part of their relationship with that brand, regardless of the format it takes or the channel in which it occurs. In the future, brick and mortar retail will just be retail.