Originally published in Chain Store Age
The physical store of the future won’t arrive overnight. Businesses will take incremental steps to reach that destination, improving their abilities to collect customer data and analyze it, as well as to create more engaging and positive in-store experiences. Simultaneously, they will have to wait for the consumer to adapt and catch up with technologically driven changes — so it’s a two-way street.
The future will draw on changes in consumer behavior as much as on new technology. As customers grow more accustomed to using virtual reality to view and try on products remotely, the same technology could be deployed in stores.
Mass customization, already seen in products like sneakers, and just-in-time delivery will work to shrink the size of the stores and their inventory, while still tailoring experiences around each customer individually.
Inverse curation, the process of taking customer desires into account and then building a store around those wants and needs, is the ultimate experience all retailers will strive for. Imagine walking into a store and having a virtual aisle that has been curated only for you, with ideas for new products gleaned from your purchasing history and behaviors. For retailers, this will mean understanding the customer on an increasingly personal level.
In that regard, while the store of the future is coming, many of its elements are already here, waiting to be integrated into this hyper-personalized experience.