We met the future of retail today - well sort of.....
Meet The Future Of Retail
Many would have us believe that the future of retail is here.....now. But that's not quite true. What does seem to be true is that we can at least, possibly for the first time, begin to see what the future of retail might look like.
Whilst there maybe many pretenders to the throne and the messaging this year (in certain instances) bore a disappointingly familiar look and feel, it is undeniable that NRF 2018 marks the turning of a corner
"We can at least, possibly for the first time, begin to see what the future of retail might look like"
So what did we learn on day 2 of Retail's BIG Show?
Apple taking a bite out of the Big Apple.
Need to check on your latest version of iOS and can't wait for 9am the following morning? No matter, Apple have you covered. Their store on 5th Avenue is open 24x7.
So if the urge strikes at 3am in the morning, just wander down to Apple if you need a quick fix.
Or if you're a shirt (and whiskey) lover why not pop down to UNTUCKit where you'll be greeted with a wee dram no matter what time of day.
Top two trends from day 2?
1. Services & Experiences
It's clear that spending on services & experiences - rather than goods - will continue to grow. And with that, so too experiential retail. Which is all great news for stores.
Talking to numerous people at the Show, one thing is agreed upon; there will be less stores in future and closures will continue during 2018 despite the optimistic economic outlook in the US (not so the UK which has it's own rather special challenge!).
But the good news is that those stores which remain will be better than ever before and it was interesting to hear the positive take on automation which it is envisaged will free up store associates in particular to do more interesting tasks.
Tired of manually checking inventory? Help is at hand!
2. Frictionless Becomes A Reality
We've been hearing about 'frictionless' commerce and 'seamless' shopping experiences for years and in truth they've largely been marketing taglines.
Now, finally, the concept is becoming a reality.
And interestingly, much of the focus was again around the store as opposed to online. Whether it be easier, speedier checkout or clearer inventory availability our store experience is set to become a much slicker operation than today, predominantly through the empowerment of the store associate.
And this is an area where many of the smaller startups appear to be thriving.
Whether it be Tulip Retail with their store associate mobile assisted selling and clienteling or Newstore which provides a mobile app to allow easy, quick access to product, inventory, pricing so that the store associate can build a relationship with the customer easily and quickly - one thing is for sure....
Retail must adopt a different perspective on its frontline store workforce. For too long store associates have been perceived as the most costly line on the balance sheet, instead of the most valuable asset a retail business possesses.
That outdated, old fashioned way of thinking must change and change quickly; otherwise the naysayers claiming the 'retail apocalypse' is upon us, might just well be right.
Retail Reflections are a retail analyst consultancy. Their Founder, Andrew Busby, is ranked one of the top retail influencers globally and is an IBM Futurist.