Trends issues are especially interesting because they can predict and project what the future may look like, and because no one really knows, the prognosticators aren't really accountable. That's a good thing because I'm going to reveal my vision of the near-term retail industry, and I'll only take credit for the areas that turn out prophetically correct.
- FMI's Store of Tomorrow's most important projection is that "stores will become emotional destinations." In order to bring the increasingly more educated and savvy shopper into their stores, retailers will offer pockets of services such as a wellness center, a chef-driven foodservice area, an in-depth multicultural section, a health clinic and a pronounced perishables section.
- These will be formatted as independent sites to encourage shoppers to be surprised and entertained as they move through the store. The key difference from today is that each area will display monitors, videos, aisle shelf lights, nutritional information brochures, live displays, recipe and menu planning assistants, and registered dieticians and nurses to make the store visit a real "emotional destination."
- The Store of Tomorrow will vary in size and space. Smaller specialty theme stores with fewer products that cater to regional locations and neighborhoods will grow more rapidly. The locations and product mix will be determined by improved shopper demographics and insights. And stores will begin to brand themselves with increased shopper marketing and increasingly sophisticated store brands.
- Category product management will take on a whole new life as much more sophisticated metrics and analytics profile shoppers' interests and buying patterns to new levels. The emphasis will be on increasing category market share against direct competitors and other retail channels. New age promotional programs with resultant ROIs will become the norm.
- Retail and shopper technology as we know it today will become obsolete within two to three years. Scanning data, RFID, new analytics and software to measure and predict shopping behavior and patterns, mobile communications, social media, online ordering and pick-up and delivery are all in the early stages of development.
- Here's where I'll go out on the limb and predict some major short-term trends about management topics.
- Retailers will better understand and control multi-channel supply chain challenges. The rapid changes in supply chain, logistics and inventory control cross all levels of executive management, and will be addressed accordingly. This critical area must be upgraded to stay abreast of the innovation and efficiencies that are being created. It's about a lot more than the shortage of truck drivers and the high cost of fuel.
- Big data also includes big confusion. Big data will be tested with the necessity of better interpretation and actionable insights from the information gathered. Less emphasis will be placed on the raw data, and more on the use of data action plans, applying it to empirical information, and firsthand experience.
- As social media, e-commerce and digital information progress, senior execs will get more involved in mandating better communication between IT and marketing to improve their mutual understanding of important business needs and challenges.
- Retail executives will spend more time in stores, talking with customers and employees, attending conferences and trade shows and sharing information for the improvement of their businesses, and of the industry.
Wow, a brand new world is shaping up. These are my lofty predictions. What are yours?
President and CEO, Stagnito Media