The Retail Conference 2015 shared its ‘future of retail’ with well-trodden trends proving successful for those brave enough to embrace them.

Retailers and brand marketers sat side by side at this year’s much-awaited conference, eagerly anticipating the next big thing. What followed was a reminder of a number of trends we’ve heard repeatedly over the last few years.

What became clear was that while the world moves rapidly forward, particularly in the realms of consumer technology, retailers often respond more cautiously.

Similar to consumer adoption of new technology, a small number of retailers are early adopters to the ‘future of retail’. Many trends first manifest as a trial concept for those brave enough. The majority sits by the sidelines, waiting for others to prove success before joining the game.

There’s no doubt this model of prudence is a successful one and helps safeguard any investment. But, sometimes it pays-off to be brave.

The gap between the technology that shoppers use everyday and the services offered by retailers is more often growing, not contracting. Retailers must focus their business on tomorrow’s shopper rather than yesterday’s or be victim to their braver bolder counterparts who leave them behind.

Here’s a reminder of a few of the latest retail technology innovations  for the future of retail with those leading the way:

  • Product personalisation or, more importantly, mass customization is continuing to grow: many are aware of the success of Nike ID allowing shoppers to build their own trainers. M&Ms have also had victory with their personalised message and photo service.
  • Expertise and advice reaps rewards: This can come from digital assistants or real-life staff supported with a range of digital tools to enhance the shopper experience. For instance, Boots have a device to measure skin tone and recommend the correct make-up colour.
  • The line is blurring between the online and instore experience: Technology offers the opportunity to recognise consumers and personalise their experience. From as simple as identifying gender to reading expressions to gauging interest. Adidas’ AdiVerse virtual footwear wall is a nice example.
  • Augmented reality is being used by a number of brands to allow shoppers to experience their products in the home before purchase: IKEAs 2014 catalogue allowed this via an app.
  • 3D printing is expected to revolutionise the supply chain with the ability to create personalised products on demand: ASDA demonstrated instore scanning to create a ‘mini me’ that was far from a core product for them, but made the headlines and tills ring.
  • Location-based technology has the potential to open up a new channel for shopper communication: Trainer brand Meat Pack, used an innovative promotion to ‘hijack’ shoppers from competitor stores.

We are constantly monitoring the future of retail, so we can best advise our clients and inform future growth strategies. If you would like to talk to us about new innovation, how you can get ahead and unlock the potential of tomorrow’s shoppers, get in touch.

Adam Tregaskis

Head of Retail