While the basic role of retail still remains the same, the environment and the way shoppers experience the act of shopping has dramatically changed. Ever since the pandemic turned our lives upside down, and digital literally saved our lives from providing entertainment to helping us stay connected to shopping – industry experts have been talking about the future of retail.
With the accelerated merging of our offline and online shopping universes, we’ve heard terms like phygital, connected commerce, personalization, creative commerce… the list goes on. But when you really start to understand all of these in unison, you conclude one single major shift – the coming of ex.
Extendedness. Expeditious. Experiential. Expressionism. Exclusiveness. Extraordinary. And this is what best describes the new orbit retail is on. It’s not just the future, it’s the now.
Whether you’re shopping in-store, on your phone, on your laptop, at home, at the beach, in office, or even on a mountaintop you are, in fact, experiencing extail. The entire commerce landscape is morphing and evolving to enable extailing. It’s only a matter of time when each of these facets of extailing will be at their most impactful, and yet will keep evolving.
So, let’s take a look at what these are:
Retail channels have literally extended in ALL directions – In-store, in-mall, social media, e-commerce, own brand sites, television, mobiles, laptops, in-mall, outdoor, in the sky. You can shop anywhere, anytime, in any currency, from anywhere in the world. We’re living in a truly connected retail universe.
Reach is a given. What’s really changed the playing field is speed. Not only can you now shop anywhere, retailers have recognized that a key differentiator is going to be express fulfillment. What used to once be days to receive orders, shoppers can now expect delivery in a matter of minutes. Dynamic fulfillment with live tracking has already become a reality, with the dependence on humans likely to be replaced almost entirely by machines in the near future.
With brands historically relying heavily on physical spaces to engage with their shoppers, experience is now being offered everywhere. Brands are enabling their target groups to interact with products virtually, while online or in the store. From AR to QR codes to no-touch experiences, we can interact with brands and products throughout the shopping journey.
The need for self-expression has never been as relevant and significant as it is today. And retail will enable this more and more. Today, shoppers can give a voice to themselves through the brands they love, on platforms where they share their lives, communicate, connect and shop! Brands are encouraging and driving expression through retail. Shopping will be transformational in driving individual identity for a new generation of expressionists.
Customization has been a trending term in the world of retail in the recent past. Brands and retailers are still exploring the endless possibilities of making bespoke shopping experiences truly what they stand for – exclusive and individualistic. From targeted content, to personalized trials to personal-editions, shoppers will increasingly patronize tailor-made solutions.
With brands, retailers and shoppers pushing the limits of what is possible in the realm of retail in 2021, this is just the start. It truly will be a seamless, frictionless, hyperconnected shopping journey and will be embraced by shoppers, brands and retailers alike. It will be an all-encompassing, all-pervasive phenomenon. The future of retail is truly extraordinary.
So, how can both brands and retailers tap into extailing?
Shoppers are becoming increasingly accustomed to encountering brands across channels and environments. Shopping is no longer a ‘destination-based activity – it’s now always on.
Be shoppable anytime, anywhere – in physical retail and e-channels, on social media, in gaming rooms, during live streaming, on blogs. Enhance capabilities, functionalities and services to deliver on extendedness and expeditiousness. Create relevant solutions and content to drive easy and intuitive navigation, compelling education and buying inspiration. Use technology but keep it simple because attention spans are short.
Enable enhanced virtual browsing and product discovery through dynamic content and real-time feedback. Leverage geo-targeting and location data to deliver differentiated messages and products. Invite self-expression rather than dictating it. Scale is important but so is exclusivity. Create more bespoke products and experiences.
It’s simple. Strive for the extraordinary.