The Future of Shopping - Insights From Karen K. Burns
Expert Panel

The Future of Shopping – Insights From Karen K. Burns

Sep 09, 2021

Raydiant’s new series, the Future of Shopping, interviews experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding what organizations can do to prepare themselves for what lies ahead. 

The following is an interview we recently had with  Karen K. Burns, CEO and Co-Founder of Fyma.

How has consumer shopping behavior evolved over the past 5 years?

There has been a shift to online shopping of course, with more and more of it being done online, and especially from mobile phones. Contactless shopping journeys (self-serve checkouts) have been growing in popularity, however, ill-meaning clients have also started abusing these as they have figured out how to steal from a self-serve checkout setup. There was a move towards an omnichannel approach, where goods would be available both in store and online, then to online-only stores that then launched a physical store and then of course Covid mixed it all up. We’ve been living in the pandemic for 1.5 years now (sic!) and it has shifted focus to domesticity and things to do around the home – shopping behaviors have reflected this and will carry on to do so for some time.

What are the top 3 trends shaping the ways consumers shop?

Value-based shopping: this has been a growing trend and is being accelerated rapidly. Consumers have more choice than ever – but this means brands’ values have to align with those of the buyer. Everything from no-packaging to fully recyclable packaging,  donations to charities per jar and the percentage of BAME in the staff will all play a role on whether a purchase will be made or not.

Unprecedented levels of brand switching: this has been a trend for a while and will carry on, brand loyalty is declining as new and exciting products and brands are launched with people switching and experimenting more. Social media also influences this as specific brands are no longer relevant to a specific status.

Women will remain the ones going to a physical store: We can see from our data that women shop significantly more than men at brick-and-mortar stores. This has been the case before the pandemic, during it and as we are emerging from it also.

What’s the future of shopping?

The ‘meh’ middle of the market shops and malls are out and very large brands (such as Westfield), as well as specialist grocers / stores, will thrive. As much as we are moving towards shopping online, women will remain the key buyers in brick-and-mortar stores. People have shopped in person and together in public market squares or built places for thousands of years. The satisfaction of a tactile shopping experience can never be replicated online (nor the showing off we all secretly do as part of this), so shopping will have to adapt, but will not move wholly online.

There will be more hybrid spaces, with city open areas merging with shopping and leisure activities. Shops will have to move closer to the people and communities they are meant to be serving.

What are 3 actionable steps an organization can take to prepare for the future?

One of the things we have seen with our retail clients is that their teams need to upskill to handle digitalization and working with AI-enabled tools. Online shopping is tracked meticulously, but in-store isn’t at all, and even where it is, mall or retail chain management teams often don’t know what to do with the data. There is no true omnichannel without understanding brick-and-mortar shop behaviors and what drives them. Hence:

– Upskilling and reskilling people to handle digitalization and the influx of artificial intelligence.

– Invest in data analysis, not just aggregation.

– Work with the public sector and urban planners – the future of shopping spaces will be more hybrid and this can only be enabled with such collaboration.

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