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Future trends in “bricks and mortar” retail

November 23, 2017

Written by Collin Freeman, Space Planning Concepts

Retail is constantly changing and evolving. 

The challenge for retailers is to try and anticipate how to deal with these changes, and building in factors that could make allowances.

Retail businesses can use various channels to deliver products and services to the end customer. The big question is, what does the consumer want – now, and in the future? Answering this question will help predict future retail trends. 

Some needs and wants could include entertainment, stimulation, comfort, connectedness, purpose, convenience, you name it.

In relation to the above, the consumer has become more knowledgeable and selective, expects better levels of service, guaranteed quality, good value as well as an interesting and exciting environment in which products and services are sold.

The future of retail outlets will be all about the specialised products and services, with a particular focus on created a diversified in-store experience to entice customers to visit the outlet. 

The key will be not to remain complacent and static, but to continually adapt and evolve, so that it remains relevant.

A retail business needs to be sustainable (i.e. will consumers need your products or services in the future?), and allow room for growth.

This comes back to the business concept, which within the physical shell has flexibility built in (e.g. flexible/adjustable and easily removable display systems), making way for new displays and new departments or services.

The location is a very important part of the retail concept, and future trends will be away from traditional shopping centres, as they are restrictive in terms of what you can sell, and whose rents are becoming too high for the business to remain sustainable (except maybe for certain types of retail such as chains and franchises where scale allows many costs to be absorbed or allocated.)

Various other locations may become more suitable depending on the nature of the retail business, be it because of the suitability of the location due to its unique character, the area required e.g. “big box” retailers, or simply because of lower rentals and far less restrictions on the business, including compulsory refurbishments every few years at enormous cost.

Many retail businesses may become destinations due to their product offering and also for leisure purposes, such as garden centres with eateries attached, essentially a “blurring” of retail and leisure.

Others may follow, and so motor spares may offer other departments such camping, fitment areas, eateries and so on where the retailer then even becomes a destination/ leisure outing for the family.

There is also evidence of some areas of business that are now becoming “retailers”, e.g. Banks who are selling services as products, via graphics and other forms of communication. This can be called “peripheral retailing” as it is not considered retail in the traditional sense.

Even used vehicles “shops” e.g. Carzoos, have been appearing in shopping centres where you can purchase vehicles with the assistance of sales people who demonstrate this on monitors. 

Other examples of future retail trends

  • Bakery/coffee shop combinations
  • Butchery with burgers and hot dog takeaway/ diner combinations
  • Mobile phone kiosks offering sales, accessories, repairs, packages
  • Specialist barbers, offering shaving and other facial treatments and pampering 

Some general trends for retail concepts

  • Lifestyle shopping for innerself
  • Authenticity/Transparency – e.g. eco sustainability, ethical trading
  • Total and sensory experience – e.g. travel agencies where private viewing rooms of videos of places and hotels, smells and sounds
  • Participatory, entertaining, interesting
  • Personalising, Customising
  • Community orientation/purpose, social relevance
  • Environmental/sustainable concerns – emotionally and spiritually healthy environments
  • Long term relationships, connection and connectedness
  • Search for knowledge
  • Home improvement and DIY
  • Wellness centres, offering many specialised services and products
  • Giving to get back

Food for thought. 

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