Revealed – the future of the retail store

NikeNearly half of 500 Australian shoppers surveyed by the Australian Consumer Retail and Services Unit (ACRS) on behalf of marketing services business Salmat in August indicated that they will spend the majority of their time shopping online by 2022.

The ACRS’ latest Omnibus Tracker data is good news for online retailers, but bricks-and-mortar traders will be happy to know that 48 per cent of surveyed consumers said they will still spend the majority of their shopping time in-store five years from now.

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According to the survey, those investing in omnichannel have even more to look forward to, which also found that 59 per cent of respondents want an equal balance of interaction between technology and humans.

The human face will likely remain something that local shoppers demand from retailers, as 53 per cent said they would not buy a product from a robot, which also suggests some cognitive dissonance on behalf of shoppers, given their supposed willingness to buy from online stores.

The research also revealed that customers still want to touch and feel products, and “are not interested in virtual experiences”, with only 11 per cent of shoppers saying they will research and compare products using augmented and virtual reality in the future.

Bad news for Ikea, which just launched a brand new augmented reality shopping experience after several years of development.

ACRS managing director Sean Sands said that the findings showed that the old chestnut that bricks-and-mortar was dying was false, echoing the sentiment of other retail executives and analysts over the last few years.

“Over the past decade, online retailing and social media have led many commentators to suggest that physical retail would eventually decline or die. However, this is by no means the case. Humans are essentially descendants of hunters and gathers, and we still desire the ‘hunt of the kill’ which translates today to touching, feeling, and experiences of physical space,” he said.

What does the future store look like?

The research begs the question: what should the store of the future look like?

The General Store’s Matt Newell, who won the store design of the year award for his work on Shoes of Prey’s store, believes there is no easy answer – shoppers are polarised.

“There are two extremes customers are looking for,” Newell told IRW. “On the one hand, they’re looking for seriously efficient shopping experiences [in terms of] getting in and out, and on the other, they’re looking for highly inefficient experiences that are massively experiential and immersive.”

Newell warns it is a mistake to discount the influence of the former, pointing to supermarkets’ recent attempts to bring experience into stores as a curious development.

“We’re seeing supermarkets try to do all this experiential stuff, and it’s sort of not really the relationship we want with them, whereas for retailers like Lululemon, experience is important. People will stick around for yoga classes,” he said.

“It’s about understanding what your role is.”

On the experience side, retailers like Nike and Samsung have managed to drive significant dwell times with stores that aren’t even focused on sales.

NIke’s latest concept in New York has experience average dwell times of 2 hours, Newell said.



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