This article is part of Raydiant’s Future of Brick and Mortar Retail series featuring interviews with industry experts and thought leaders with the goal of providing actionable insights that can help brick and mortar retailers prepare for what lies ahead.
What are the 3-5 top trends that will shape brick and mortar retail in 2021?
SS: Less is more. There will continue to be fewer physical outlets with smaller footprints for most brands. This is a natural response to the shift to e-commerce, and a shift away from storing to exploring.
Localization will become the mantra for both major brands and property owners.
The fall-out of large chain specialty retailers will give rise to more, new local/regional niche brands, many of whom started as digital natives.
Social selling is powerful. Actively enlist micro-influencers to become brand ambassadors for your stores, it will offer huge payback.
What technologies will have the biggest impact on brick and mortar retail in 2021?
SS: Augmented Reality will continue to make its way into facilitating choice-making and consumer empowerment in a wide variety of retail categories. Ikea allows you to see their chair in your living room, Warby Parker helps you see a myriad of frames on your face with the help of your iPhone. New-gen virtual fitting rooms now come with custom avatars that match body types. Now companies like Omnivor allow you to view/show 360 degrees, 3D holograms on your smartphones at home. With 5G and deep tech AI there are no limits to what’s ahead.
What should brick and mortar retailers be doing now to prepare for 2021?
SS: Focus on the e-commerce side of the operation. If COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that without unified commerce (aka omnichannel) there is no there, there. And this is not just for the major national retailers. Today, regardless of the retailers’ size, category, price-point, or offering, the customer has come to expect total access to your products when, where, and how soon they want it.
In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, what’s the future of brick and mortar retail look like?
SS: From storing to exploring, market to media. The store must evolve to a place of discovery, information sharing and brand building, and away from sheer transaction. The store must do what the website cannot and that’s build lifetime customer value.