ROAR CEO and Founder Oksana Sokolovsky On The Future of Brick and Mortar Retail

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.  

The following is an interview we had with Oksana Sokolovsky, CEO and Founder of ROAR.

What are the 3-5 top trends that will shape Brick and Mortar Retail in 2021?

OS: When I originally spoke to Raydiant at the beginning of the year, who would have thought that brick and mortar retail would be reshaped forever by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In my opinion, the top trends that will start surfacing this year include:

Brick and Mortar retail will incorporate showroom store designs, entertainment-centered, and showcasing-focused approach rather than displaying the full inventory in the store. The store experience will be more about viewing and experiencing a product, and less so about purchasing. Purchasing and shipping will be done online via touchless technology checkout and direct shipping capabilities. Retail locations will adopt more open room, wide space concepts that promote viewing, and an experiential approach. Shopping as entertainment.

Customer Service will re-focus on customers  – more personable, less transactional. Talent in retail will be more important.

Leveraging different new technologies in physical locations will become more critical and more integrated – AR, try-on and try-out, shopping cart & checkout on your own mobile device, voice recognition technology incorporated into store stations.

Instead of in-store demos, companies will go virtual to their audience and bring new products, demos, and interaction via live streaming technologies. Try-on technology replaces physical try-on. Touchless checkout process using your own device as opposed to shared stations or staffed counters.

View and imagine in the store, checkout on your device, ship to your home – this is how I envision brick and mortar retail in 2021 and going forward.

Brick and Mortar businesses are not tied to a single location anymore. Retailers can connect with the audience everywhere and expand their reach with live streaming and AR.

What technologies will have the biggest impact on Brick and Mortar Retail in 2021?

  • Live Streaming.

  • AR, Try out and try on.

  • Touchless technology and Use Your Own Devise (UYOD) approach.

What should Brick and Mortar Retailers be doing now to prepare for 2021?

OS: Embrace new technologies, rethink what and how of the in-store experience and start building your digital community through meaningful engagement.

Don’t just sell, sell with passion – it’s not about inventory anymore. Create an experience, showcase it, and entertain your customers. Shopping will become entertainment. Come out of your brick and mortar store into Social 2.0. It’s not about the followers, it’s about the engaged community. Engage, entertain, and connect with your customers!

In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, what's the future of Brick and Mortar Retail look like?

OS: The future is definitely reshaped. In my mind it’s amazing. I see brick and mortar businesses growing, expanding, and creating new reach. They are reaching the consumers in a new more personable way. It’s not just about transactions, it’s about engagement. They are winning customers with their passion, care, and personal conversation. They are actually reconnecting with the communities and building relationships.