The Evolution of Retail: Enhancing the Customer Journey


Taking urban retail into the future

The headlines are dire. Retailers are worried. Physical shops are closing down. Consumers are seduced by quick, easy, and cheap solutions that are often negative to profit margins, growth and the environment. But is the era of city retail really dead?

That need not be the case. The customer journeys don’t have to be limited to the online ecosystem. Using an innovative mind to direct customers to physical stores is just as important. The future of retail is bright for forward-thinking brands that are willing to embrace new ways of doing business.


A new dimension of pop-up stores

The concept of pop-up stores has been with us for quite a while now and the advantages are many. The brand gets more flexibility, can offer their customers a unique experience and capitalize on this buzzy concept. Pop-ups can also create a sense of novelty and exclusivity as they are temporary. However, it is not the innovation of pop-up stores itself that is the prominent thing but rather the execution of it.

Alexander Wang x Adidas Originals collaboration, for example, created a buzz by combining social media with an innovative pop-up concept: a pop-up truck going from New York to London to Tokyo. Fans followed the pop-up mobile store on the Adidas Originals Snapchat and inside was the exclusive capsule collection.

Another example was the launch of Chanel’s “Red Coco” where they created the “Coco Game Club” in Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Combining the pop-up concept with virtual games around lip products, beauty and an electric atmosphere with DJ’s and influencers was a true success.

In Malmö, a micro-department store that embrace new ways of doing business recently opened, Beyond Us – the urban market. It combines pop-up sales with a new dimension of unique brands and workspace for rent. Furthermore, it has an insta-zone, coffee shop, a click and collect service with relaxed fitting rooms, so that you can try what you have ordered on arrival. This concept takes a full grip of the customer journey and make it personal and inspirational.


The new retail landscape – context and personalization

The key to getting ahead in the retail buzz is to meet the customers where they interact with the brand and explore how this interaction works. The days of broadcasting a marketing message to one monolithic group of customers have passed. Each customer is different and should be offered contextual interactions that are personalized to their particular situation. Our lives online, mirrors our real lives. Technology has allowed marketers to craft messages on a one-to-one basis between their brand, a single shopper and where they are in their customer journey. Context and personalization form a powerful tool to build strong customer attraction for brands and fulfil the enhanced customer journey consumers are seeking.

Trends shaping the future

Stores will still serve its purpose, but their prime function will be the customer experience and personalization. Tedious tasks, like logistics, will become more and more automated and simplified, but we have to keep in mind that the five human senses can only be stimulated in store. We predict following three trends that will shape retail in 2020:

1. The development of responsible consumption and sustainability.
2. Hybrid businesses, where physical and digital experience are combined
3. New ways of marketing and interacting with the customers, for example via Messenger and other chat based social media platforms that personalize the costumer journey.

At the end of the day, it is innovation and agility that we’re after and need to strive for. Innovation that is not only digital, functional, or creative – but, a combination of all three that bonds us together and allows growth.