The future of retail is more about magic than inventory
The future of retail is kind of a mess.
Physical stores are desperate to compete with the convenience and choice available on the Internet. Online retailers are opening up physical locations to improve their shipping, fit, and return efforts. And malls are busy trying to stay relevant and reinvent themselves as some kind of hybrid.
While consumers have never had more choice, creating an environment that pulls it all together into a magical experience that keeps shoppers coming back for more is the secret sauce of success for the retailer of the future.
“It’s all about experience,” retail innovator and former Monaco club CEO Francois Pierrel said in a conversation with Karen Webster. “It’s like if you put Chanel # 5 in a plastic bottle, you’ve lost the magic. This is the bottle. This is the packaging. It is a question of experience.
He described the future of retail as both healing and collaborative.
On the curation front, retailers need to know their customer and the brands they want, and then organize a holistic shopping experience, Pierrel said. It might sound easy, but he pointed out that customers often know more about brands than store employees.
At the same time, the future will see less competition and more collaboration. Instead of pitting brands against each other, he said he envisions a future that pairs the prettiest sweater with the best pants to the delight of customers. In short, an experience that transcends the brand’s DNA and offers an experience that consumers could not live alone.
“That’s kind of the purpose of a department store,” he said. “Their job is to organize, not to have the last shiny object. It’s not about getting a brand’s entire collection, but getting a part of the collection that makes sense in the assortments it organizes. “
The best omnichannel experience
Put simply, Pierrel said that the stores should be as good as they are online, but also provide something other than what cannot be done online. That thing, that “tangible phrase,” he said, involves talking to customers in an interesting place and having a sales force that can engage and gather information. A place where customers can shop slowly but buy quickly.
“Serve coffee, serve drinks, talk about the weather, do anything, let them sail,” he said. “It’s that experience, that human experience that we all miss when shopping online.
According to him, customers should be encouraged to take all the time they need until it comes to the purchase itself, which he says should be as efficient as online.
“Make the timing of the transaction as smooth and quick as possible, at least in the eyes of the customer,” he said. “Everything else, let them take their time. “
Feed the buying impulse
It is clear that there is a ‘buy now, get now’ (BNGN) mentality emerging within the connected economy, as physical stores undergo a series of transformations to remain relevant, a trend that will be even more so. a factor for the retailer of the future.
PYMNTS last How we buy report, a collaboration of Carat de Fiserv, concluded as much, stating: “Brick and mortar stores are always king when it comes to buy now, shop now. Eighty-nine percent of consumers say they make BNGN purchases at Walmart stores, and 90% make them at physical locations of nationally recognized retailers. “
Get the study: The role of brick and mortar in the bring it to me economy
And yet Pierrel said he knew too well that it took more to break up the mess and demand the attention of a potential client.
“The full availability of everything that is possible on earth does not help me,” he said. “I have the Internet for that. Amazon is the Internet. Everything is here. [But] what work to get by. It’s very complicated, and no one is there yet, but we are getting closer.
What to do with shopping centers
When it comes to shopping malls, Pierrel said they are dead, need to be reinvented, and there are just too many of them. And yet, he said he still believes in them and the role they can play in delivering a Disney-like experience that makes buyers and families want to come back again and again.
“Shopping centers still believe in conservation, [as in] let’s put this brand next to it, or this service next to these brands, and then it creates an experience that kind of feels like downtown, ”he said. “But we don’t need as many shopping centers as we have. That’s for sure.”
In addition to fewer stores and malls, Pierrel said his vision for what retail will look like in 2025 also involves more globalized selling, with a more focused approach to online shopping.
“International websites, one website for the world, not different websites,” he said. “With intelligence, you can customize by market, [but] I don’t believe in markets. I don’t believe in countries. I believe in 20, 30 key cities in the world.
But perhaps most importantly, said Pierrel, for retailers to be successful in the future of hybrid, omnichannel and connected commerce, they’ll need to pay close attention to the clues – both physical and digital – that their customers give.
“To understand your client, you have to be an observer,” he said. “It doesn’t take many, many visits to figure this out. I see how you dress, what you wear on your wrist, your hair, what coat you wear, whether you come from work or home, what kind of shopping bags you wear. There are a lot of clues. “
The same is true on the data side of modern retail, he said.
“If you can share [those clues] at all levels, [retailers] you don’t have to build a full relationship to create this experience for you, ”he said. “It’s just about leveraging those two worlds from the data they provide to you. “