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’s it’s headed.
The following is from a recent interview with the CEO of the Retail Doctor Bob Phibbs.
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
BP: The opportunity to truly know the shopper and connect in a more human way across multiple channels using live video as well as in-store.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
BP: The collecting of data. Everyone is doing it but not entirely sure why. That’s why we’re seeing smart retailers aggregating their data locally and only uploading to the cloud what they feel is actionable.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
BP: Cameras to watch shoppers, to watch shelves, to watch employees. We still haven’t reached the limits of all this scanning and expect it will face a backlash at some point. Many brands tell me they are not talking about customer engagement. It is all about associate engagement and finding ways to hire better, train better and deliver an exceptional branded experience in the store.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
BP: AI but not because it is sexy and on every website but because it can connect far more data and serve up far greater insights than a human could possibly do. Coupled with machine learning and blockchain it can revolutionize the supply chain and buying cycles.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
BP: Brick and mortar is always going to be here. Maybe online will reach its limit of 20% of shoppers as a channel. Brick and mortar can deliver something a cold website or app can’t because of the way it is designed – a feeling. People who feel they matter buy more. A bot or kiosk simply can’t scale to do the lifting a trained employee can. On top of that a well merchandised, data-enabled retailer who trains their employees as a habit and not something to get through is the way forward. Not everyone will make it but the smart ones will crack the code and provide hope to those paralyzed by the Amazons of the world.