Will technology be the savior of or the burden for the future of the retail experience. PSFK’s 2011 Future of Retail report starts the debate.
You don’t need PSFK to tell you that the retail landscape is undergoing a massive transformation, but while the way people shop in-store may be evolving, we don’t always feel that it’s been a positive evolution. Much of the change we see is driven by technology, which has been integrated into the footprint of stores in the name of creating ‘a better shopping experience,’ however, it often seems to have the opposite effect. Instead of adding to the sum of the customer experience, it optimizes particular parts like revenue-per-square-foot and ignores other key factors like personalized interactions and inspiring use of store real estate.
The shopping experience today can be one of self-checkouts and interactions where we rarely encounter a member of staff. When we participate in a loyalty program, we are met not with welcoming smiles, but with mass-market coupons.
As we consider the retail and shopping experiences of tomorrow, we must remember that people have been going to the market for thousands of years. These trips were not only about fulfilling basic needs in the shortest time possible, but to participate in a communal experience within which they could share advice, get news and ideas, hear gossip, receive an education, escape from the challenges of daily life, find lovers, haggle for a bargain and most importantly, truly feel a part of their community. Technology and its adherents seem to have forgotten this fundamental truth.
That being said, it is ironic that technology, in its most recent social, and connected form, should prove to be the savior of the personalized shopping experience.
In the new Future Of Retail report, we hope to tell a story about how the use of technology has turned the corner, and forward-thinking retailers and brands are using it to put a human face back onto the shopping experience. Around the world, we’ve encountered news about the death of brick and mortar stores, struck down by the ascendency of e-commerce, but I would argue that the physical store will continue to be a vital part of our culture because of technology, not despite it.
Our research shows a promising future for shopper experiences across the entire retail landscape from big-box retailers and department stores to corner shops and independent boutiques.
We will look at the holistic shopping experience and how technology can introduce a social and vibrant market atmosphere to every retail occasion throughout the purchase path from browsing to buying.
PSFK’s Future Of Retail report looks at trends in real-world experience because we want to show retailers and the brands behind the products sold in stores that there is a way to create valuable shopper interactivity that will not only drive sales but will keep them coming back for more.