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.
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
JG: That the old playbooks don’t work anymore, and we’re still trying to figure out the new ones. I like the fact that there are new easy answers, and we’re having to invent new approaches.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
JG: Digital is now the front door to our store (and digital now influences over 50% of all purchase decisions). Brick and mortar is still important, but walking into a store is now rarely the first interaction we have with a customer, and the digitally disrupted consumer has very different expectations from our store.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
- Digitally enabling the in-store shopping experience, in particular finding ways to deliver social proof and other digital product attributes into store.
- Auto-Replenishment. What’s the role of the store, when more than half of the items a consumer needs, just shows up right when they need them.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
JG: Mobile in store. We’re not going to solve customer expectations through huge new IT deployments in stores, we need to solve it by leveraging the super-computer consumers are bringing with them to the store. We’ve only just scratched the surface of how stores can interact with phones.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
JG: Brick and Mortar will remain an important part of commerce, but the actual number of visits retailers get is going to continue to decline, and the role of the store continues to evolve. Stores increasingly have to fulfill roles other than product discovery, such as fulfillment, customer service, and reverse logistics. It’s going to be increasingly rare that a shopper walks into a store without already knowing what is available, and what they want.