Despite the deep challenges of the last decade, now overlaid with the dramatic impact of the pandemic, physical retail absolutely has a future. Much of that future will be through integrating useful technologies into the in-store experience to compete with the purely online experience.
This morning a segment on the Sunrise national breakfast show on the future of retail, shown below, included some thoughts from me on this (around 0:55 and 2:30).
My core frame for thinking about the future of retail is Experience, Personalization, Immediacy, Community: both online and physical retail are competing to excel in each of these domains.
As I mention in the segment, among the experiential – and useful – technologies that will draw people to visit and buy in stores are tools such as smart mirrors, virtual fitting rooms, and body scanning booths.
These kinds of technologies enable contactless commerce and provide a reason to go to stores, for the experience and the better buying outcomes.
Yes, an increasing proportion of retail will be online, but physical retail has a strong future for those who create powerful, superior experiences for those who visit stores, usually strongly aided by technologies, integrating the best of digital and real-world worlds.