Going shopping in the future is expected to be more enjoyable.
There is one thing for certain about the store of the future: there will be a lot more open space.
Also, the store needs to have a really functional Wi-Fi connection.
Although a majority of transactions in the United States still take place at brick-and-mortar stores, Internet shopping has transformed the process. Retailers are being told they need to duplicate the quick, easy and interactive features of an Internet sale in their physical store if they want to stay relevant to today’s shopper.
“The Store of the Future’’ is a hot topic among all retail and marketing organizations today, and there is some agreement among them all as to what the store of the future will look like (with an assumption that the future is right around the corner).
“Retail is under siege,’’ ESI Design strategist Gideon D’Arcangelo told Adweek. “The online retailers want some kind of physical presence, and all the brick and mortars are trying to catch up with the online space. What’s going to happen is a hybrid.”
There are basic concepts experts expect to see in the store of the future.
Technological advances: Touchscreen monitors and LED displays create an interactive and fluid atmosphere that the modern shopper is going to expect. While touchscreens duplicate the at-home shopping experience in the store, retailers can display physical examples of the product to shoppers who want to see what they are buying. Then, through the monitor, the variations on the product can be examined.
Freshness: Even return customers want to see something new when they visit a physical store, which is why retailers change displays frequently. With LED signage, the in-store displays can be changed as frequently as the retailer wants.
Open floor space: At AT&T’s new store on Michigan Ave. in Chicago, the spacious area has been segmented into “boutiques’’ that display how AT&T products can be used in different rooms in the house. The entire store is bright, inviting and, most important, wide open.
Interaction: For Baby Boomer and Gen X shoppers, human interaction still matters (for Millennials, not so much). Research firm WD Partners has determined that the two factors most important to shoppers are immediacy (being able to get what they want immediately) and a “touch and feel’’ component, a sensory experience. Online retailers cannot offer either of those options.
Following the lead of Apple stores, the store of the future is expected to have sales people who will greet shoppers and have with them a tablet device that will allow them to assist a shopper and walk them through the shopping experience. It streamlines the process while making the customer feel attended to.
Non-linear shopping: In the past, stores were designed specifically to prompt shoppers toward specific items. Traffic flow mattered, and aisles were created so that customers had to walk past multiple displays to get to the cash register.
New stores not only won’t have such linear requirements, they will invite wandering.
No cash registers: Sometimes, a shopper can be deterred from even stepping foot inside a store if they see that there is a line at the cash register. But, again following the lead of Apple stores, the sales people who have the tablets used for shopping will be able to conduct the sales transaction immediately from anywhere in the store.
An actual shopping “experience”: In order to make the brick-and-mortar shopping trip inviting, and a preferred alternative to online shopping, stores are expected to have more interactive and live experiences. Kitchen product stores with cooking classes, clothing stores with live models, hardware stores with tool use classes are examples.
“Stores will become more theatrical, more immersive, and more of a life experience rather than simply a place to get something,’’ Christopher Studach, creative director at Eugene, Ore.’s King Retail Solutions told Business Insider. “As much as they are selling products, they will be selling a good time, a lifestyle.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.