Disruption, Personalization, and Mobile Commerce: What We Learned at Future Stores 2017

BY: ZACH HEAD

JULY 6, 2017

Recently our team attended the 2017 Future Stores Conference in Seattle hosted by WBR. This event brings together thought leaders from across the retail industry to discuss trends and strategies. Themes from this year’s conference included everything from in-store experiences to omni-channel integration. Read on to see how disruption, experiential retail, and personalization of the shopping journey were highlighted as the future of retail.

RETAIL DISRUPTION

Recently, retail has experienced a lot of disruption with the growth of Ecommerce, shopping online, and mCommerce, shopping from mobile devices. Brick-and-mortar retail must therefore evolve quickly as competition and options for today’s shoppers increases. Large retailer brands are typically slow to change. However, they have been forced to innovate quicker than ever simply to keep up with the market.

In one panel, it was suggested large retailers could leverage startups—and the lean innovation philosophy they utilize—to gain an advantage within this competitive space. This could help foster innovation across the organization, as well as help new initiatives launch faster. An example is Neiman Marcus’ Innovation Labs, which seeks to discover and trial new technologies that can change the way customers interact with the business. By investing in these R&D labs, retailers are putting themselves at the beginning of the adoption curve to create brand new customer experiences.

THE IN-STORE EXPERIENCE

The recent trend of decreasing foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores has now become the norm. To combat this, retailers are pivoting the function of their brick-and-mortar locations and creating a more personalized experience for each shopper with events and interactive merchandise. This means sales associates, who are traditionally there to run the store, are now being utilized as experiential guides for shoppers.

These new in-store experiences allow brands to capitalize on the strengths of brick-and-mortar while still taking advantage of previously developed digital assets—such as online stores. Additionally, many of the new in-store events and experiences can create buzz on social media. With this dual marketplace, brands are creating an enriched shopping experience and a personalized relationship with their consumers.  

MEETING SHOPPERS IN THEIR POCKETS

With all this, it’s no surprise retailers are under pressure to reorient their in-store strategies to account for mobile shoppers. With constant access to the internet, customers can potentially engage in a constant feedback loop with brands. Mobile-first commerce, which one keynote speaker called the “new era of retail”, means these brands are constantly in contact with shoppers—especially while shopping in their brick-and-mortar locations.

Removing friction between shopping experiences is key to a seamless omnichannel experience. Meaning, in order to stay current, retailers must focus on how to have a successful cross-channel experience. As one presenter shared, customers are used to smooth experiences built by large-scale online retailers and outdated technologies could tarnish customer experience. Meeting customers in their pockets with seamless experiences is one way to ensure customer loyalty.

Retail is constantly changing and evolving, making it difficult for some brands to know what works and what doesn’t. At Square Root, we help brands build metrics to understand what customer experience programs are moving forward and which ones are stalling. Curious how we could help your brand move forward? Contact us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As a member of our marketing team, Zach helps shape up the content calendar and keeps operations running smoothly. He loves telling stories that entertain, sharing information that engages, and creating content that empowers. Ready to tackle anything that comes his way, Zach’s motto is always, “Absolutely. I’ll give it a shot.” Outside of Square Root, Zach loves to travel and has seen 43 of the 48 contiguous states. An avid basketball player, he describes his jump shot as “picture perfect.” Zach will graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with dual bachelor’s degrees in marketing and radio-television-film in December 2017.