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Experts see more play-tail, less retail in future stores

Stores of the future will be more about experience than product, according to Euromonitor. The global market research firm hosted a virtual event with retail industry leaders on Oct. 14, 2021, to explore the future of the store in a digital world.

During the two-hour event, keynote speaker and moderator Michelle Evans, senior head of global digital consumer research at Euromonitor International, discussed emerging trends with panelists Barry Thomas, vice president, global marketing and business development at The Coca-Cola Co.; Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer ro Publicis Communications; and Emily Xu, chief marketing officer at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

“Stores will evolve from a place where products are sold to a stage for branded experiences, and these unique engagements could generate revenue,” Evans said, describing futuristic playgrounds that engage customers and drive new sources of retail revenue.

Citing data from Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey 2021, Evans said global retail sales grew by $3 trillion over the past decade, with 75 percent of that growth in ecommerce. The survey also found 50 percent of global shoppers visited stores that created engaging experiences, confirming Evan’s belief that immersive, personalized and optimized shopping environments will compel more customers to visit physical stores, she stated.

Future-ready retail

In her keynote address, Evans predicted an accelerated rate of change in the retail sphere that will require a robust digital infrastructure that enables retailers to remain agile, adaptable and competitive. As data becomes increasingly important, consumers will remain a key voice in retail, and technology will become paramount, she noted.

“Retail, since its early human history, has continued to evolve, decade after decade,” Evans said, pointing out that today’s consumers are more likely to shop across ubiquitous multchannel environments than to trawl through physical stores. Future retailers will compete more on experience than product, which makes it imperative for retail store owners to truly innovate and not just imitate their neighbors, she added.

Emphasizing that retailers need better supply chains and self-understanding, Evans laid out a six-point strategy to help them prepare for the future, which she summarized as follows:

  1. Find new sources of truth:In an age of abundant data-driven analysis, dig deeper to find meaningful customer insights.
  2. Generate real-time feedback:In a fast-changing industry, establish real-time feedback loops to stay relevant with consumers and their demands.
  3. Build smart supply chains:At a time when gaps between manufacturer and end-consumer are closing, create shorter product development cycles and intelligent logistics.
  4. Target a segment of one:Amid shifting business models, foster intimate conversations with consumers and cater to their individual preferences.
  5. Know your inner circle:When retailers are embracing accelerated digital transformation, consider your existing capabilities and inner circle to choose if you want to merge, cooperate or merely coexist.
  6. Adopt a laser-like focus:In an era of personalization at scale, invest in technology that makes sense from a cost-benefit perspective.

“The digital darlings of the early millennium rose to prominence by leveraging technology to introduce consumers to a new way of life,” Evans said in her keynote presentation. “Those changes required more platform upgrade than overhaul. This next stage will be more about infrastructure and the next innovations will move beyond imitation as retailers, brands and others embrace new approaches and technologies that appeal to their base, rather than just replicating their neighbors.”

Evans also presented her six-point strategy for retailers in an Oct.13, 2021, blog post, titled, “Six Actions Retailers can Take to Remake the Future Store,” which is available at

This article originally appeared Oct. 15, 2021, in The Green Sheet: