Keynote on future of local retail by inspirational speaker Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson is a globally recognized and highly acclaimed keynote speaker and futurist. He has delivered many keynotes on the future of retail and is considered one of the most influential thought leaders in this space.

Keynote speaker topic – The Future of Local Retail

[NOTE: Also see Dawson’s speaking topic Creating the Future of Retail]


The world of retailing is being massively disrupted by Internet sales, intense price pressures, and increasingly fickle customers. However, the future of retail will not be a battle between in-store and online selling. The two spaces will converge, as social media, mobile, and immersive entertainment technologies bring life and engagement into stores, shopping centers, and main streets. Rich experience and community will be central in enticing people out of their homes. Retail absolutely has an extraordinary future for those willing to create and shape its new era.


Below are the slides from the retail futurist Ross Dawson’s keynote on Creating the Future of Business at the Mainstreet Australia Conference. The title of the presentation is Creating the Future of Business, however; after a more general introduction on the driving forces of business, the presentation focuses on the future of retail shopping precincts. The keynote slides are designed to accompany the presentation and are not intended to be useful on their own. However, they have been provided for illustrative purposes.

Here are some of the main points that retail futurist and keynote speaker Ross Dawson made in this engaging keynote:

– The shift of retail to online, after progressing at a steady pace for the last decade or so, is starting to move faster in a number of sectors. Online shopping is becoming more compelling, through the quality of the experience, easier comparisons, integration with offline experiences, and now the overlay of social media and connections.

– Big chunks of retail buying will remain in the physical world forever, though there will be a long phase in which every physical store sales in every sector of retail are eroded by online buying in a variety of forms.

– In many countries the best landmark shopping centres will do well. There is much that they can do to offer rich shopping immersive experiences that many will be prepared to pay a premium for. However all except the best will suffer.

– Retail shopping precincts, often in the main streets of suburbs or towns, are threatened by the rise of large shopping centres, and not only the good ones. However they have the trump card of community, which barely exists if at all in shopping centres.

– The key elements that can transcend the massive trend to commoditization of retail shopping are Community and Experiences.

– Retail shopping precincts are usually based around local communities, so many people know each other or can get to know each other. Any number of initiatives can help people connect in physical spaces, sometimes complemented by online communities.

– Co-working spaces can be a great way to bring telecommuters to one physical space, building many-layered relationships and supporting surrounding businesses.

– Creating an amazing shopping experience will be at the heart of what makes people choose to shop in physical stores rather than online. Major shopping centres have the resources to create fantastic immersive experiences that will draw people out of their homes, and that’s what they must do to succeed. Retail shopping precincts do not have the same resources, but they have the (potential) advantage of personality and uniqueness.

– Shopping centres run by big corporations have strict parameters to how things are done. This creates an extremely high-quality shopping experience, but one that is highly uniform and often devoid of personality. Retail shopping districts may not have all the edges sanded down, but they are the best place for retail businesses that are unique and have deep personality. In a world of homogenization, we seek uniqueness, and it is increasingly visible where it exists.

– The ultimate danger for any retail shopping area is to be generic. Having one of each of the same kind of shop as in the next shopping area, done in the same way, provides almost no reason for people to visit. There will be an inevitable erosion of visitors and trade. Yet providing a complementary array of unique, personal, distinctive shops and services will be at the heart of making the best retail shopping precincts thrive. The opportunity is there for the taking.

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