Future Retail Store
What will the future retail store look like? This is the question of our second episode of our new in-house fashion podcast, Fashion Questions… To help us understand where the retail market is heading, we’ve invited Doug Stephens, a retail futurist, renowned author, and founder and CEO of Retail Prophet, a consultancy specialising in trends forecasting and consumer behaviour.
His latest book was published in 2021, Resurrecting Retail the Future of Business in a Post-Pandemic World is all about the transformation of the retail industry. You may think that the future retail store will be all about the metaverse and 3D virtual shopping spaces, but Stephens defends the role played by bricks and mortar.
“We have to make a real effort to celebrate the physicality of the retail experience and allow people to engage on a physical and emotional level, as opposed to just through the screen of their mobile device. But at the same time, I hope that we can retain the elements of both experiences both online and the physical realm, that make for a great shopping experience.”
He says the store of the future is going to be measured in a very different way of the store of today. The success of a store won’t rely so much on sales within the store itself, but its ability to generate online sales within a given market, and their media value.
“How many people came into the store in a particular year? How long did they stay? Where did they go? What did they engage with? Who did they engage with? We're moving into a world where media is fast becoming the store and stores are fast becoming a media channel that brands are using to great effect.”
In his latest book, Stephens defends brands need to have a purpose to consumers beyond the product itself. For this to happen, he identifies four quadrants that brands need to focus their energy to dominate within their market:
- Culture – focus on social or environmental issues
- Entertainment – create an exceptional entertaining experience around products
- Expertise – provide expert advice on a specific product category
- Product – uniqueness of the product and the experience created to access the product
Contrary to what many might have been forecasting a few years ago, physical stores remain important. “I think physical experiences are vitally important to us as human beings. Because at the end of the day, we're not just some sort of disembodied brains that operate in virtual space. We're physical creatures, we rely on senses to operate as human beings. We need social interaction.”
Stephens believes we will continue going to physical stores but for very different reasons in the future. It will not be about simply picking up a product to take home with us the way it has been for the last several hundred years, but for reasons well beyond the product. You can listen to this episode here. Our in-house podcast, Fashion Questions…, is also available on Spotify and Apple podcasts. Share the word!