Will Rogers once said, "Even if you're on the right track, you better get moving, or you'll get run over." As we look ahead to 2017, there's no denying that the fundamentals of retail that we have come to know and accept are being rewritten — and the rules of the game are changing at an unprecendented pace.
Demography? Dead. Categories? Redefined. Digital? Move over, it’s now in the driver’s seat.
To some, these might seem daunting — and no doubt there are tremendous internal and external implications. So how do you balance progressive, out-of-the-box thinking with the practical need to manage risks?
Below, I give you four key areas where we must start the discussion, and focus our efforts in 2017 and beyond.
Shopper Participation — From Shopper to Marketer
Retail is no longer a one-way street. Thanks to the digital revolution, shoppers are empowered to take things into their own hands, often translating their frustrations into solutions. This shift is already happening, and retail is responding — for example, by offering personalized goods and services, supply chain transparency, seamless shopping, flexible payments, and more. But shoppers continue to raise the bar for creativity and self-expression. Increasingly, they also desire to influence not only their own choices, but also broader positive change.
The shopper’s ideas, input and preferences provide a wellspring of information to retailers — from engaging customers with a campaign to help create the most innovative flavor of potato chips to creating a unique flavor of granola through an online retailer that then delivers the final co-created product to the customer’s front door. Consumers today have plenty to say, and they appreciate being asked to weigh in on or to help shape their favorite foods and products.
Destination Retailing — From Transaction to Lifestyle
In the landscape of ever-evolving physical and digital store formats, retailers must create attractive destinations to drive traffic. Traditional definitions of categories can no longer dictate the journey through the store, and shoppers want tailored solutions that lead to experiences, not just transactions. Today’s shoppers are yearning for their weekly grocery shopping trip to have elements of discovery and innovation.
Though anything can be purchased with the click of a button online, this way of shopping leaves a void that only an in-store experience can fill. This is great news for retailers that know there's no end to the possibilities when making their store a destination, including building gourmet or restaurant-style food offerings into more traditionally retail-only settings and hosting in-store and pop-up events to drive traffic while driving customer enthusiasm. The beauty of these approaches is that they leave a distinct impression on shoppers, and help retailers stay relevant and meaningfully engaged with their customers.
Precision Wellness — From Pharmacy to Grocery Rx
Today’s savvy consumers are accustomed to tracking everything from their sleep and exercise patterns to caloric intake, and more.
The interest in quantifying wellness spans all generations and illustrates what's important to today’s consumers. If the personal version of quantifying wellness is represented by the ubiquitous Fitbit, the in-store version of wellness quantification can be seen in the blending of pharmacy and grocery, and creating customized wellness solutions for customers.
Examples of wellness quantification can be seen in retailers across the globe, and the focus on measuring and improving health and wellness will continue to be of central importance to consumers of all ages in the years to come.
Redefining Convenience — From Convenient to On-Demand
Talk to five shoppers, and you will likely get five different answers to what convenience means — and retailers are expected to keep up with all of them.
For example, people are increasingly interested in living in more urban settings where they can easily walk or drive to a nearby retailer. Or how about the consumers who are gravitating toward simple, customized meal solutions, as well as individualized solutions which address health concerns and needs in a holistic way? Then there are subscription services that automate the delivery of everyday items, and new technologies like drones delivering goods to people in record time.
All are signs of a new era and a new level of expectation regarding convenience for the consumer of today and the future. To stay relevant, retailers and manufacturers must work to identify and begin investing in innovations that will help them commercialize the store of the future, giving customers what they want, when they want it, without fuss or frustration.
In today’s fast-paced and always changing retail environment, these four key insights provide a guide as retailers look to best serve and satisfy customers in 2017 and beyond.