Looking Back On 40 Years Of Retail – Top Tips For The Future!

We are known throughout the world for being a leader on market research and customer insight. To celebrate our 40 years in the industry, this four-part blog series looks at how the retail landscape has changed – and what the future has in store.

1975 – 1980: Recession and the rise of marketing

1980s – 1990s: Reaping the rewards

Early 1990s: Back into brief recession

Mid 1990s – 2008: The halcyon years

2008 – 2013: Recession and slow recovery

2013 – 2015: Fighting back

2015 and beyond: Star-gazing into the future of retailing

Retail experts now agree that the industry is changing so rapidly that we can only look one or two years ahead. We have seen digital technology enable newcomers to overhaul conventional business models – for example, Uber and Air BnB have changed the way people book taxis and accommodation using apps, online booking and peer-to-peer networks. But what’s next? Below are just some of the things retailers can look out for in the near future:

  • It’s about people, not numbers

The sector is more sophisticated than ever and retailers are investing significant resources into understanding how people think, behave and shop. The days of selling to the masses are long gone and instead firms are developing personal services using big or smart data gathered from online behaviour. This allows them to entice customers with timely communications, promotions and personalised pricing.

In a fiercely competitive market place, customers will soon be given genuine rewards for frequent visits and higher spending, in a way that moves beyond the current reward points model.

  • A lifestyle, not just a destination

Time is of course, a precious commodity for most consumers so retailers will look at ways of making their services more convenient. At the same time, the lines between retail, hospitality, entertainment, education and even gaming will blur so they become part of our blended leisure time. Stores, which may have suffered due to online shopping, could forge new identities as an entertainment, education or social hubs.

  • Less hurdles, more orders

The next few years will see some of the mundane aspects of shopping removed thanks to the so-called ‘Internet of Things’. Everyday devices will be fitted with software, which facilitate repeat purchases. For instance, a coffee machine can detect when capsules are running low so an order with the supplier can be made without direct involvement from the customer.

  • Location, location, location

As well as spending time securing the best units in shopping centres, retailers will also have to work with digital ‘landlords’ such as Google and Amazon to increase visibility in search engine results. Meanwhile, as the trend for online shopping continues, marginal shopping areas could be used for other purposes such as housing, offices and community buildings as retailers focus on key stores in primary locations.

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