The retail sector has had a turbulent time recently. It has weathered the recession, seen a huge swing from high street to online sales and finally endured the uncertainty created by Brexit.
At the end of 2017, the Independent predicted that the retail sector would flatline in 2018, and that seems to hold true in the figures which are being posted. But what does the future hold for the retail sector?
As internet sales continue to rise, many retailers are learning that they need to take an omnichannel approach to their business to stay competitive. This approach simply means blending online and offline channels. We’ve seen many retailers begin to do this over recent years, allowing customers to buy online but collect in store, for example. But the trend is set to continue as newer technologies and artificial intelligence-based solutions are released which help to personalise the shopping experience. This blend of channels is seen as one of the most effective ways to allow customers to shop in the way which suits their own unique personality and lifestyle.
So while high street stores have been in decline, it is unlikely that they will die out completely – rather they will be paired back and streamlined to become an integral part of a retailer’s omnichannel strategy.
Maximising Customer Experience
Physical stores will stay but need to be able to create a unique experience for customers, and many are already starting to do this. In the US coffee houses at the luxury end of the market are taking their customers on a journey, having the beans for the coffee they’re drinking roasted on the premises in clear sight of their clientele. Food and drink are also seen as a key pull, allowing customers to pop in for lunch, order their products online and pick them up as they leave. But these may simply be gimmicks which work in the short term only.
A retail experience which maximises its unique selling point of human interaction is much more likely to achieve longevity. Creating a pleasing environment with the use of in store media, such as that provided by companies
like https://moodmedia.co.uk/in-store-music-for-business/, is as likely a draw for clients as some new-fangled juice bar.
So the future of retail overall will see further change as retailers continue to blend their channels.