Retail Renaissance

In 2017, the buzz around brick-and-mortar retail space caused panic as stores closed and online sales grew. 2018 is showing more promise, and business insiders have a positive outlook for the physical shopping space experiences that many companies are creating through digital technology. Artificial intelligence aids such as facial recognition, in-store chatboxes, and virtual fitting rooms are giving consumers a unique shopping experience that can’t fully be replicated online. Rather, the in-store and online experiences will blur together, and further complement each other this year. The renaissance will continue to bring major store renovations to accommodate the experience-based technologies and also business model reloads. Companies who adapt to the changes will thrive!

When considering the renaissance of retail, it is important to make a distinction between "chore" and "cherish" shopping. Think of chore as things that are needed to live a comfortable life, such as groceries, toiletries, etc. Clothes can also fall into this category, but more often than not they fall into the cherish category, meaning things that are not needed, but add pleasure to life. The distinction is important because strategy for retailers is different depending on the category within which goods fall. Chore retailers are focused on creating a simpler shopping process. Grocery retailers are offering online shopping options where consumers can pick items online and drive up to the front door to pick them up without ever having to come inside. The process should be simple and easy, leaving more time for the enjoyable things in life. 2018 has already seen a number of innovations from retailers who are streamlining processes to meet consumer demands. 

Cherish retailers focus on different aspects of the shopping process. Rather than streamlining, the aim here is to create an experience that allows the consumer to escape from the mundane. Virtual assistants in dressing rooms and cosmetic companies that allow consumers to explore make up online pre-purchase are two examples of how retailers are spicing up the traditional experience. In the coming years, we can expect for cherish retailers to combine practical shopping methods with that of fantasy to create a truly unique and personalized experience.