Rock solid retail predictions?

New York based research and innovation house PSFK has published a report called the Future of Retail, outlining 10 trends that will impact the retail sector in the next three to five years. I thought I would share my own views on some of the more interesting trends.

PSFK founder Piers Fawkes says “shopping is undergoing a sweeping transformation” citing mobile devices, social networks and digital media as the main instigators of change.

The full list of trends is:

1. World as a retail experience.
2. Preview Shopping
4. Selling the ideal
5. Every store as flagship.
6. Complementary curation
7. Revolving decors
8. Taking the store to the customer
9. Instant show and tell.
10. Group Clout

Here’s my two-penny worth:

World as a retail experience: The days when retail meant you had to visit a high street and stand in line are already long gone, with various models such as home shopping, TV sopping channels, catalogues as well as click and collect services giving consumers many more options. As mobile devices become more prevalent, and brands, advertising and media content becomes more entwined I think the world will indeed become a retail experience with consumers able to buy and browse any product from any brand at any given time and access additional relevant content at the same time.

Tablet enabled service: I’ve already written about the iPad and the lack of meaningful apps from retailers at present, but I’m certain that as tablet use gets more widespread and consumers are using these devices on the move more and more, retail brands will be up there with the big boys in terms of offering services and content.

Every store as flagship: The idea of a flagship, while valid in some ways, is getting a little outdated as borders blur and brands make more and more available digitally, it will cease to be acceptable for a brand to have one flagship store filled to the brim with design concept and technology, while the rest of the stores in its portfolio go woefully by the wayside.

Complementary curation: This is something denim brand Levi’s has already forged ahead with. Levi’s opened it’s redesigned flagship store on London’s Regent Street in March and has given over the front of the store to a gallery space it calls “Origin”. It will only ever be used as a curated space and the brand is working with 18 London craft workers ranging from musicians and artists to caterers in an attempt to go back to the craftsman roots of the brand. It’s a great recognition from a brand that while ultimately they want to sell products, a traditional store environment is not the only way to go about it.

Taking the store to the customer: I think this will become one of the most important aspects, and leads on from every store as a flagship. In my view, things like pop up and temporary stores come under this umbrella trend. As consumers become more time-poor, and more accustomed to digital services and things coming to them, retailers will need to realise that if they want consumers to choose them above rivals, they will have to make it easy, and that means going where the consumer is, not waiting to be sought out.

Group Clout: Online shopping sites such as Wahanda and Groupola, which is owned by Myvouchercodes.com, are already harnessing the power of “group clout”. They call it group-buying power and it’s a force to be reckoned with. The principle is, buying in bulk gets the consumer a better deal. It works like this: Groupola will offer a special deal every day, and if 50 shoppers sign up to buy it, they all get it for a hugely discounted price. And, by the power of “group clout” the consumers get a great deal but so does the retailer, because 50 additional people are guaranteed to walk through the door for their product or service. It then becomes up the retailer to engender loyalty, but that’s a separate issue.

While speculating on and predicting trends that will transform consumer’s lives is both interesting and fun to do, the proof is in the pudding as they say.

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