Future of retail
Welcome to ’Future of,’ a report that explores what will—and more importantly what should—come next in must-watch categories.
A new chapter of retail is upon us. As we emerge from a difficult year, hopeful signs of what the World Economic Forum calls a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism are coming to light around the world. A category marked by excess is refocusing on the essentials. Green space is replacing inventory-stuffed stores as shopping moves online. And shoppers are realizing that they have no choice but to buy less and buy better. “All the narratives are building around a new Roaring ‘20s, a hedonistic binge, taking revenge on the virus with our consumption. But I think a lot of us are going to feel uncomfortable and disquieted, to the point of despair, as we remember what the fully revved-up consumer culture looks like,” notes JB MacKinnon, author of The Day the World Stops Shopping.
Beyond the pressure to champion a healthier era of consumption, retailers are grappling with disruptive forces from every angle:
- Climate-conscious shoppers are calling for complete supply chain transparency.
- An onslaught of innovative DTC brands is driving consumers away from big-box stores.
- An ever-expanding network of shopping platforms is complicating consumer-brand relationships.
- Growing demand for digital goods is forcing retailers to find their footing in the virtual world.
Rather than aiming to predict the future of a sector so vast and multifaceted, we zeroed in on the most urgent questions plaguing today’s largest retailers:
- How will the shift to e-commerce redefine the role of physical stores?
- To what extent should tech infiltrate the shopping experience?
- How can peer-to-peer platforms be leveraged as an ally, rather than a threat?
- How will shifting priorities alter long-held notions of luxury?
The four growth opportunities within this report answer the questions above—confronting the cultural tensions at play and offering tactical solutions for a better way forward. And though entirely new questions will undoubtedly arise, one thing will remain certain. Reverting back to our pre-pandemic consumption habits is not an option. It’s time to reset.
If you choose to read the FULL report, these are some things we explore:
- Retailers might rewild our cities
- E-commerce data will personalise in-store shopping
- A post-influencer world will demand educational brand advocates
- A product’s past life could become its biggest selling point !
FOUR GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES AT A GLANCE
A new era of retail requires that physical spaces serve a purpose beyond shopping. The stores of the future will revitalise cities, uplift local communities, and promote circularity.
Retail’s tech tightrope
Next-gen retail technology will work behind the scenes to enable a seamless shopping experience. Explore a more meaningful way forward through phantom tech, intelligent ordering, and sensory stores.
To survive increasingly communal commerce, brands will need to make everyone in their network an active player. Tomorrow’s retailers will strengthen relationships by engaging in direct dialogue, pivoting from influencers to educators, and joining brand coalitions.
A richer kind of luxury will put product life cycles in center focus. Looking forward, upscale eco-materials, authenticity trackers, and functionality will define the new premium.