Retail isn’t dead, as my conversation with Erin Jordan of Walker Sands last week on our Blog Talk Radio show proved. Far from it. Retail is changing, impacted (as we all are) by the fusion of virtual and actual reality, online and offline.
Here are a few ways in which retail is shifting:
- Seamless online/offline experience: Stores that were once “online only” such as Modcloth apparel are now opening stores where you can view the garments in person. Although everything in the store is a size 10, you can order while in the store itself and have the item shipped directly to your home, completing the fusion of online and offline experiences.
- Stores using window space differently: Retail stores for the past 200 years or more have placed goods in their shop windows to attract customers. But what if the shop is closed? People stroll by store windows day and night in some cities yet the store isn’t open 24/7. Well, now it can be as savvy retailers are utilizing the window space of their stores for computer kiosks that display their websites. Customers strolling by the store windows not only see goods located inside the store but everything on the brand’s website, too. Then it’s a matter of touching a screen or a smartphone to order.
- The “no checkout” experience: Amazon and specialty grocers pioneered this concept and it remains to be seen if it catches on with more retailers. Camera embedded in the store ceilings and special censors in shopping carts scan items as customers move through the store, checking them out of inventory and charging the customer for them. Personally, I wouldn’t trust such an experience to be accurate, but the technology and, more importantly, the idea is there.
If you haven’t listened to our podcast, check it out on Persimoney on Blog Talk Radio. We talk more about the Future of Retailing and explore these and other thoughts from the original Walker Sands report.