11 Forecasting the disruptive changes in retail

Forecast 1: Ubiquitous trade

Commerce becomes ubiquitous at every point where customers interact with the brand and seek inspiration; and that will provide the opportunity to shop via videos, social networks, chats and other novel channels.
Retailers need to define which channels and touchpoints their customers prefer. Subsequently, a purchase should be possible wherever a customer is in contact with the brand and decides to buy. Attractive, digital and consistent content that offers customers real added value is crucial
for building long-term customer relationships.

Forecast 2: Connected inventory

The traditional channel-specific (eg online versus offline) inventory will evolve as a first step into a company-wide inventory, breaking familiar conventions and breaking down barriers within the company, and then further opening and becoming a connected inventory, the next channel –
and cross-platform revenue, allowing external marketplaces and merchants to access the inventory of individual companies. In order to increase sales and use inventories as efficiently as possible, retailers need to consider how to use their products for the larger ecosystem. Wholesalers, franchisees and other vendors have great opportunities for retailers to be present on multiple platforms to generate more revenue beyond their own walls.

Furthermore, retailers can specialize in certain areas and thus assume the function of a micro-platform. In this case, retailers not only sell their own goods (e.g., ski pants and jackets), but also integrate products from external retailers to cover all the customers’ needs (e.g., snowboards and boots).

Forecast 3: Personalized Products and Services

Products and services are fully personalized to the needs of customers. As a result, customers increasingly identify with the brand and the products, and as a result, they also feel a stronger sense of belonging, which can lead to increased loyalty. We are all customers and we know that we feel particularly appreciated when products and services are designed according to our individual needs and desires. The desire Uniqueness grows and raises an important question for retailers: where is personalization
possible and does it create real value for the customer? Retailers must choose their personalization strategy well; sometimes even small changes have a big impact on the customer.

Forecast 4: Content marketing and social media

Retailers will increasingly understand themselves as media companies and act as such. The mere production and provision of content for the purpose of selling products will not guarantee long-term success or loyal customers. In this context, social media will have the biggest impact when it comes to not just letting customers be part of what’s happening, but also offering the
right conversion opportunities where the customer is inspired.

Relevant content is essential today if a brand wants to attract customers successfully. (Social) platforms need to be opened up to customers so that they themselves are able to produce content. Retailers need to give their customers the opportunity to act as the brand’s “advocate.”

Customers love the stories of like-minded people and the “next-door people”; They get to know products in a new way and feel understood and picked up.

Forecast 5: Identification of the individual customer and contextualization

Each customer will be known to the retailer and thus immediately recognized; It addresses clients in a much more personal and effective way, based on their individual context and preferences. New digital technologies (such as iBeacons and RFID) offer great opportunities for retailers to locate and then interact with store customers, for example. Retailers need a well-
defined strategy for capturing, analyzing and using individual customer data to

Forecast 6: Immediate availability

Customers will expect retailers to meet or anticipate their needs immediately, meeting retailers’ “right here, right now” expectations. As retailers are increasingly expected to meet changing customer expectations regarding product availability and delivery speed, companies need to
identify the true needs of their customers. It does not have to inevitably include same-day delivery but, for example, accurate and reliable forecasts about the actual delivery date.

Customers demand a superior, proactive service, where uncertainty or long waits are not an option. Staying on the ball constantly and making the impossible possible for customers – this attitude will set the successful players apart from the rest of the providers.

Forecast 7: Customer loyalty through comfort

As time is one of the most precious commodities in our fast-paced and complex world, customers will be loyal to the retailer who offers the utmost in convenience while shopping. Shopping takes time. There are the kinds of purchases that consumers enjoy because they give themselves something, but there are also the kinds of purchases that just have to be done (such
as toilet paper, shampoo, detergent etc.). With the latter, customers will increasingly demand a higher level of comfort that goes so far that you no longer have to think about them and do them yourself. Personalized concierge services or subscription models are just two examples of how
retailers can find the right answer to this development and provide customers with an easy and enjoyable shopping experience.

Forecast 8: The super experience in stationary retail

The role of brick-and-mortar retailing will fundamentally change as the boundaries between the physical and the digital world continue to blur. Retail stores will turn into places where customers can experience the brand firsthand through digital technologies and build an emotional relationship with them. Retailers need to redefine the role and functionality of their stores to meet the needs of permanently connected customers. Because the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds will not exist in the future, a holistic view of the customer experience must be made independent of channels and communicated to the customer.

Forecast 9: The extinction of the cash register

Paying for shopping will no longer be a separate step in the process, but rather a seamlessly integrated part of the shopping experience. Furthermore, the role of sales personnel will fundamentally change to consultants, whose main task will be to help clients find what they are
looking for and need. The use of the latest technologies – especially in terms of payment – will be an essential element in the redefinition of the shopping experience in stationary retail.

What still feels like theft today, when customers can pay on their own without interacting with the store staff, will become the norm in the future. As a result, employees need to be prepared for their new roles and responsibilities when the payment process is no longer central to their day-to-day business.

Forecast 10: Close to the

Companies that act as intermediaries, such as Marketplaces, rental companies, social media and price comparison platforms will completely redefine the relationship between customers and retailers, fundamentally changing the traditional idea of who owns the customer and their data.
New players are entering the market, forcing established retail companies to think about the future of their customer relationships. If they no longer interact directly with the customer, but do so through a third party, what are the implications for their business model? Retailers must either provide such solutions themselves or network with the right partners at an early stage to avoid losing contact with their customers.

Forecast 11: Transparency and automation of the value chain

By using technology, the value chain of retailers will be highly traceable and automated in the future. This gives customers complete transparency about their purchases, and retailers can handle orders more efficiently. Customer awareness of what they consume on a daily basis will continue to grow. Smart Tags e.g. can make the entire supply chain of a product transparent to customers and thus inform about the origin and the materials used. In addition, Blockchain technology makes it easy to spot counterfeit products using digital IDs and tamper-resistant databases, so customers can be sure to buy genuine products. To do this, robots will carry out warehouse operations hand in hand with people, making the entire delivery process safer, faster and more accurate.