In 2021 over 2.14 billion people shopped online, which is over 25% of the entire global population.
As has been widely reported, many people have shifted to their laptops and phones instead of brick-and-mortar stores. With this change, many are concerned about what the future of retail stores looks like.
The truth is that running a retail store in 2022, from retail events to retail marketing, is on the precipice of completely changing. But that change shouldn’t be seen as intimidating; it should be embraced.
This is what the future of retail stores looks like, and how you and your business can get ahead of the curve.
Nontraditional Roles of Retail Stores
According to an insights report by Oliver Wyman, retail stores are now set to take on nontraditional roles.
This doesn’t mean brick and mortar will cease to exist. Rather, physical locations will change in regards to their purpose. Certain businesses may have alternative uses for their locations. One such use might be as a return or repairs building.
Or, they may want to use physical stores for events rather than to sell products.
Companies like Amazon, have begun to transition towards a hybridized traditional-non-traditional retail approach. Their latest venture, Amazon Foods, has begun to establish supermarkets with no tills.
In an Amazon Foods supermarket, anything you put in your bag will be billed on your Amazon account. You must scan your phone to enter the store itself. The staff inside then only consists of security and a small number of shelf stackers.
This is one of several examples of futuristic-sounding retail stores.
These experimental approaches are becoming increasingly important in 2022. There’s a demand to synergize online presence, with their physical location.
Some of the other measures being taken to achieve this come in the form of AR, VR, and experiential marketing.
The Role of VR and AR in the Future of Retail Stores
Experiential marketing is a term used to denote a new, immersive form of marketing. Companies submerge consumers directly within the experience of a particular product or service. This virtual experience then entices them to experience it in the real world.
This approach combines the ongoing influence of social media influencers and digital personas. It’s also only made possible with modern-day techs like VR and AR.
Experiential marketing is becoming so widespread that experiential marketing agencies exist.
These companies specifically support this new form of retail advertising.
Retail stores can combine experiential marketing with strategies like retail sampling. This can thereby combine a virtual experience with a real-life experience.
Another way in which this approach can be adopted by larger companies is by hiring street teams.
Street teams are a brand-focused extension of market vendors or nightclub promoters. They consist of several employees who advertise on the street near the premises.
These teams can adopt experiential marketing tools to attract customers into signing up online. Or, they can encourage people to visit a physical location directly.
As companies continue to fight for attention, street advertising is set to become more important than ever.
The Diversification of Retail Sales
Retail sales have traditionally consisted of comparatively simple transactions. One entity, usually a company, provides a service to an individual and receives payment directly.
Today, as we continue to design and launch these new marketing tools, tech, and solutions, this is no longer the case. The sales process has now diversified, and will likely continue to do so.
As the notion of sales continues fragmenting, companies will need to adapt to ensure they continue to keep customers.
Some of this diversification comes in the form of techniques like choice intermediaries. These are employees who exist to work 1-1 with customers to find the best product or solution for them.
Examples of these employees already exist in clothing and tech retail outlets. But this deeply personalized aspect of retail is on an upward trend.
Platforms, and brand integration, can in some cases be just as important to outlets as traditional sales. This is because integrating with a company online can enable continued custom later down the line.
It also ensures a retail company is establishing a larger brand presence. This can allow them to command more sway on digital channels and in establishing physical locations.
Experiential marketing can be a viable way of building a company’s digital presence, and physical presence at the same time. If you’re managing retail stores you own correctly, this can mean retail outlets are making two sales at once.
The extent to which this aspect of retail sales will evolve in the future remains to be seen. This is particularly true given ongoing talks concerning Facebook’s proposed Metaverse.
Embracing Digital Disruption
All of the above trends have been caused by digital disruption in the retail sector, and across societies worldwide. Retail strategy is being forced to adapt to this disruption to survive.
Business management concerning retail stores now involves juggling more facets of a retail business than ever before. Now, a store needs to be viewed more as a community hub.
Sales will still likely take place in most cases; that’s a given. But this shouldn’t be the most important part of a brick-and-mortar store. Instead, it should be used to nurture a community of consumers.
With the right approach, retailers can thrive in the new climate offered by these solutions. But the only way to achieve this is to get ahead of the curve and to begin embracing these changes right now.
The fact remains that change is happening at a rapid rate. There’s little telling what new retail trends could be just around the corner.
Where Can I Find Out More About the Future of Retail Stores
The future of retail stores becomes ever more certain by the day. Gone are the doomsaying times where analysts claimed there would be no physical retail outlets in the future.
Instead, these retail outlets must combine digital marketing, VR, and more to evolve. At Auctus Agency, we help retailers embrace the opportunities offered to us by the future we’re living through today.
To find out more about how we can assist your business, make sure to contact our team directly.