Instant gratification coupled with a higher degree of tech-driven personalization will be the key trends for the retail industry, according to a recently launched study from Synchrony Financial.
The financial services company offered these perspectives from its Future of Retail: Insight and Influences Shaping Retail Innovation report, which examined consumer behavior and shopping trends forecasted to impact the retail industry by 2030.
The study culled insights from retailers, industry experts and consumers, and aimed to resolve expectations for the future of shopping as well as define expectations for retail’s evolving landscape. The multiphase study was conducted earlier this year, gleaning quantitative insights from 1,016 consumers and retail experts spanning across a variety of retail segments.
Findings from the study were divided into six core themes: Do-It Yourself Retail; Automation Nation; Retail On-Demand; Retail Comes to You; Brick-and-Mortar’s Reason for Being, and Less Is More.
With DIY retailing, technology will provide new methods for how shoppers access, select and pay for goods. The “self-serve” retail model includes stores that will stay open 24/7 with robot-assisted drive-thru windows and the introduction of interactive mirrors, both of which are said to eventually become mainstream. Almost half of participants’ surveyed, 47 percent, agreed that interactive touchscreen mirrors in dressing rooms are in the “top three most exciting innovations” for the future of retail.
Personalization is another key theme noted from the study. In the chapter on automation, researchers discovered that consumers are more than willing to provide personal information to retailers, assuming they will receive customized products and offers in return. Technology such as RFID in phones, wearables and finger or palm scanner biometrics will inform retailers to send immediate and personalized sales offers to consumers. And, in-home chatbot devices and “digital assistants” will also become commonplace.
The researchers also said the study showed that consumer expectations for products’ instant availability and streamlined return services will continue. Of those surveyed, 77 percent wish for streamlined return processes for future online purchases, which include return buttons in retailer apps (enabled to repackage and pick-up items), real-time inventory views and simplified ship-to-store options. The “on-demand” model also includes mobile, on-the-road retailing such as stores on wheels and “trunk” stores as well as continued growth of pop-up shops and subscription services.
Omnichannel communication strategies in tandem with high-definition camera technology will also allow shoppers to secure in-home retailer services. The report said consumers will be enabled to shop in 3-D, purchase on demand via smart labels or QR codes, and access instant try-on features.
Bart Schaller, the executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Synchrony Financial, said, “Why have anything altered again? Shoppers will be able to take a perfectly dimensioned picture of a person’s body, type and form and upload it to retailer apps. Without moving from the sofa, a pair of pants will arrive at their doorstep ready to go.”
The future of brick-and-mortar will center on authentic brand experiences. More than 55 percent of participants look forward to the amalgam of in-store and entertainment experiences, predicted to integrate across coffee shops, cafés, music, bars and complimentary samplings of products or services.
Heightened consumer expectations means high-level delivery from retailers. “Brands of the future must have a strong reason for being,” according to the report, as 57 percent of consumers agreed that retailers must focus on “doing one or two things well.”
Whit Goodrich, the chief marketing officer for retail cards at Synchrony Financial, said, “By having a pulse on the evolving desires of the American consumer, we’re able to pioneer new solutions to help retailers deliver a better shopping experience with tailored loyalty benefits and rewards.”
Goodrich continued, “The future of retail will look dramatically different in 2030 than it does today. We’re urging retailers to begin planning for that future now, and our emerging trends analysis is just the start.”
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