At the beginning of 2017, Amazon opened in Seattle its first future-oriented supermarket Amazon Go to the public. The concept does away with “human” cashiers and offers a completely new and significantly faster shopping experience. Special sensor and camera technology recognises purchases when they are removed from the shelf and automatically invoices these via app upon leaving the shop.
The digitisation and innovation of Internet giants like Amazon, as well as growing customer expectations, are putting increasing pressure on German stationary retail. Nevertheless, this familiar retail is not yet obsolete, but actually offers numerous shopping advantages compared to its online competition. “If traditional retail recognises its strengths and extends these to appropriate online offerings, it will enjoy consumers at its side for a long time to come”, says Prof. Dr. Björn Bloching, Partner of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. Stationary retail therefore finds itself in a transitional phase towards the digitised world.
What changes should we expect in the next ten years and what will shopping in 2027 look like?
Customer experience at the focus of the future store
The solution lies in the blending of online and offline sales. Innovative retailers want to revolutionise the shopping experience of their customers. By employing new technologies for a unique customer experience, they will be transforming a needs-oriented shopping into an experience-oriented one. With increasing digitisation, however, people by no means drift into the background. The social aspect is shifting more and more into the foreground. In the future, stationary retail will increasingly act as a “community organiser” and make shopping into a social experience. More than ever, there will be the possibility of sharing a unique shopping experience with friends or family.
Personalisation and customisation in the future store
In the future, businesses in the city center will no longer be recognisable as “businesses” in the traditional sense. Goods diversity is drifting ever more into the background. Instead, shopping will merge with leisure activities and a certain entertainment value. In the future, showrooms will stage the products, the 3D printer will produce the desired product on the spot and augmented reality will allow you to try out furniture virtually in your own living room.
Efficient and speedy shopping through technological innovations
Robots as salespersons and customer advisors, drones as suppliers or intelligent refrigerators that re-order the consumed foods autonomously. What a few decades ago sounded like pure science fiction, is today about to reach the mass market.
Instant payment technologies via NFC chip, for example, will minimise the long waits in queues at the checkout. Chatbots, robots or information on interactive surfaces will help you find specific products. A further example, besides Amazon Go, is the Milan branch of the supermarket chain Coop. This is already equipped with the latest technology mentioned and thus optimally combines the physical with the digital world.
Even if the change from conventional retail to future stores is only beginning to take off, it will be indispensible to the future of shopping. Nevertheless, stationary retail will by no means simply disappear. Since in the future many things will be arranged virtually, experiences in the real world will be all the more valuable – the secret to success lies in the fusion of these two worlds. In order to secure competitive advantages over the competition, you must react quickly and flexibly to market changes. Market and price transparency, however, are an important prerequisite here.
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No matter which direction the shopping experience will develop in the future, online retailers and manufacturers should always keep their competitors in sight.
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