In its new report, The Store of the Future, research provider Kantar predicted that consumers will come to expect a “totally seamless trip” that incorporates the latest financial and retailing technology and relies on fully integrated information systems extending beyond the shop floor.
“The retailer of the future will need to enable shoppers and flawlessly meet their needs as they plan a trip, complete ordering from home or work, even interact while the shopper is in transit,” the researchers - funded by the CocaCola Retail Research Council - noted.
Multiple and flexible fulfilment options will be provided in a “reliable, flexible, and seamless manner”.
“The retailer of the future cannot and should not attempt to separate the store or the shopper from the digital world,” Kantar stressed.
Linking the store to product authenticity, sourcing, health and food safety retailers will need to embrace their role in ensuring full transparency and open communication.
“Educated, curious, and risk-averse shoppers will want to validate the health benefits of products; be informed of possible recalls or threats in real time; and be assured of a level of wholesomeness, consistency, and ethics on a variable but increasing scale of judgment,” Kantar said.
Technology will be deployed to identify, validate, and assist shoppers throughout the shopper journey into, throughout, and while exiting the store. Meanwhile, digital and augmented reality will be used to provide an interactive shopper experience.
Effectively deploying integrated digital fixtures in the centre store will be “critical” to effective marketing. “As smartphones increasingly offer active, colourful, and even augmented reality, the store must be enabled to interrupt the flow of competing communications to reach shoppers even while they are in the aisle.”
The relationship between shopper and seller will become more two-way thanks to ratings and reviews. Effective and personalised communication, guiding shoppers to rewards and providing appropriate dietary suggestions, provides retailers with the opportunity to strengthen customer loyalty.
“When the shopper asks, 'What’s for dinner next week?' the store of the future needs to answer, incorporating a more complete understanding of the individual shopper, history, preferences, health concerns, and similar purchase decision factors,” the report forecast.
Face and motion recognition will be deployed to improve transactions, individual identification, and speed of interaction.
Technologies like 3D printing in food will enable increasingly customised flavours and textures.
Experience, value and price
According to Kantar, shoppers are shifting their focus from price sensitivity to experience, convenience and values.
“Offering a good price will always matter — but that will become the cost of entry, rather than the driver of shopper loyalty.”
Technology will be an important enabler. Kantar predicted that the store of the future will have available a “wide range of technology”, ranging from heads-up verbal/audio interfaces for employees, to integrated in-store robotics to improve operations, to interactive information and navigational support for shoppers.
Technology will enable a higher level of responsiveness, connecting inventory management, customer service, resource deployment, merchandising, and marketing.
Kantar predicted: “Merchandising, AI/robotics, and employees will be integrated such that when working with shoppers they can sense shopper needs sooner, respond more creatively, and drive a longer conversation.
“That in turn creates new metrics for measuring how these work to create a range of outcomes, especially increased total spend and return engagement.”