Holiday shoppers in London

The future of bricks-and-mortar retail remains uncertain, but business intelligence platform PSFK has shed light on how to best adapt to its shifts.

The company’s new 2018 report on the future of retail aims to untangle the future of retail trends and provide a roadmap for improving customer experiences, according to shopper data.

During a preview in New York, team members from PSFK discussed everything from Amazon to Alibaba and shared key insights gleaned from the report, including an emphasis on how retailers are — and should — leverage their physical spaces and connect them to digital channels.

Prior to the event, Piers Fawkes, founder and president of PSFK, highlighted a key theme of the report is the continued potential for bricks-and-mortar success. “Basically, the unspoken sub to PSFK’s future of retail report is ‘how to save offline retail,’” he confirmed. The report explains that experiential retail — underpinned by an “invisible” layer of technology-driven services — can help retailers drive bricks-and-mortar sales, build brand affinity and promote repeat engagements.

Fawkes noted that retailers must adapt to changing consumer expectations. “Address new customer baseline expectations for convenience, immediacy and 24/7 access,” he urged. To differentiate from e-commerce, he added, retailers should allow customers to trial services, co-create products, as well as offer feedback and generate content.

“The report shows how to leverage content, education and experiential activations to close the confidence gap and align the shopping experience with customer lifestyles and aspirations,” he continued. “It explains how to redesign the consumer’s point of sale experience — including purchase, delivery and return — from a static experience to a modular network of mobile and on-demand services that increase shopper convenience and satisfaction while improving back end efficiency.”

Above all, Fawkes summed up that there is great potential for the future of retail — and bricks-and-mortar, when approached strategically. “I think we all know by now that traditional retail seems to be challenged, but we also know that bricks-and-mortar is incredibly important for retailers, brands, communities and shoppers — and that will continue,” he said.

The report is slated to be released in mid-November.

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