Between digital and human, what does the future hold for shops?
E-commerce and the rise of new technologies have profoundly transformed consumers’ expectations. The new consumer behaviors undeniably show that retailers must evolve and innovate in order to attract consumers to their stores.
The retail model, the mainstay of these drive-to-store 2.0 strategies, is being overhauled and is catching new winds by humanizing its strategies and reinventing the shopping experience. They are no longer seen merely as stores, but as venues for everyday life.
From places for selling to spaces for living
Over the last few years, e-commerce and m-commerce have taken significant market shares away from stores. In 2018, more than 85% of French consumers reported buying regularly online. In the face of this transformation of buying habits, retail outlets, and notably mass retail, must evolve. Supermarkets are out: those temples of consumerism are gradually growing into spaces for living. Just as shopping malls have progressively turned into more open, spacious structures to create friendly living spaces, points of sale now offer various services to attract their visitors. And customer experience is central to this hybrid approach.
This consumer-centric approach has customers’ needs and desires at heart. For instance, sales areas now offer entertainment, like restaurants with playgrounds for children, but also collaborative buying patterns, with areas devoted to DIY at hardware stores. In some cases, stores are turning into community hubs, adding co-working and sporting areas, often furnished and decorated by a partner brand, which thereby gains visibility.
Phygital at the heart of retail
Upgraded by new technologies, retailing is now entering a phygital configuration, with digital reinforcing the onsite experience through customization. Messages and even prices are personalized as customers browsing the aisles are identified in a familiar, attractive store that makes them feel at home.
This is what the Casino group has undertaken with its brand-new flagship store on the Champs Élysées: a phygital concept store combining innovations on every floor with spaces for snacking and co-working. While the venue remains a supermarket, the idea henceforth is to bring shoppers in, and keep them there.
This is also the challenge taken on by the Italian food business Eataly. Since 2007, it has opened more than 30 venues around the world. The concept is smart: a supermarket with fresh produce, a restaurant, and workshops for cooking and tasting. The powerful idea behind this concept is to sell products cooked in the restaurant and conversely, to cook the products sold in the store.
Investing in experience, digitization and personalization, transforming retail outlets into service hubs and life spaces: the foundations of these next-generation retail businesses are the drivers of more attractive and loyalty-building products and services, focused on the expectations of hard-to-please consumers with high standards, who are extremely fickle with regards to brands.