Retailers need to prepare for many changes

© panthermedia / Christos Georghiou

Retail is always changing, because it is the reflection of society. This quickly becomes apparent when you look at just the past three decades. The rise of discount stores, the rapid expansion of shopping centers and last but not least the success of online retail are only some of the fundamental changes in retail landscape. However, it is not just about structural changes, but also simply about the question of “How will we shop in the future?“

The technological development and continuous spread of new equipment are the fundamental drivers of rapid changes. The answer to the question about how we will shop in the future essentially depends on how new (mostly mobile) devices and associated services and products are accepted and used by customers.

Shopping in the future is primarily one thing: mobile

Not just since yesterday does the development of new technical devices primarily move in one direction: computers, cell phones etc. are getting smaller and smaller and are handy companions in everyday life. This applies to almost all situations in life, but particularly to shopping. Today’s customers have very different options to obtain information than they had just a few short years ago. With a Smartphone for example, a comprehensive price comparison is possible at any time and is fast and easy. The retailer with the (perhaps only slightly) higher price loses when the customer does not just find a better offer via his/her Smartphone, but if it also directly and by the shortest route leads him/her to the next competitor store.

Demanding customers: shopping should be a special experience

Motorola Solutions also sees the increasing use of mobile end devices as one of the most important factors for the way we will shop in the future. In a current study (attach file for download?) almost three-quarters (74 percent) of surveyed retailers assume that an interactive shopping experience in the store will become crucial for business. Half of the study participants see an integration of online and store offers as the most important challenge for retail. ”The results of our study show that mobile communication solutions drastically contribute to increasing interaction between customers and employees and positively influence the shopping experience“, says Norbert Rickert, Sales Director Central Europe at Motorola Solutions, who explains the challenges retailers will face in terms of future shopping in an EuroShop interview (insert link to interview).

Integration of online and offline consumption

Thanks to the ever-higher broadband speed availability and the wide distribution of mobile access devices, it is getting increasingly interesting to address customers via the Internet for their immediate needs. By request, Google Maps service for instance also shows nearby local shopping options. Google is making the first step here towards a whole array of future ecommerce services that link online search and local shopping with each other.

Multidimensional shopping in the digital age

Customers actively ask for sales through multiple sales channels. By now, more than 50 percent of consumers initially get their information via the Internet – for instance on product characteristics and price reductions – before they purchase an item in the store. Convenience requirements of consumers can be fulfilled with an intelligent multichannel strategy. That is why the retail sector doesn’t just look for online concepts, but increasingly develops new formats for local retailers to meet the changing needs of consumers.


© panthermedia / Dmitry Kalinovsky

Consumption as a recreational experience

Shopping is not just a mere necessity. Customers seek a special experience from it. The integration of new sales ideas that make shopping more exciting is therefore a must for retailers. However, it would be wrong to assume that shopping in the future happens exclusively online. Customers will still want to browse in stores, try the merchandise out and compare prices with those in nearby shops. Shopping on the Internet may be more convenient and more transparent, but the stationary shopping experience can never be completely replaced by it. In many cases, consumption results from immediate needs – for instance the desire for self-gratification. This desire can only be fulfilled in a limited way with online shopping. In the retail store on the other hand, buying propensity can be immediately fulfilled without difficulty.

What can retailers do to meet the new customer expectations?

To satisfy the modern, mobile customer, retail companies have to offer a networked shopping environment as well as products that are specifically tailored to their wishes. Customers are able to search for product information and information about relevant products thanks to a safe and reliable WLAN network in the store. Customers can for instance receive buying incentives via shop-related mobile coupons in real-time while they do their shopping.

The second important factor is customer service improvement. Many customers believe that store employees are not sufficiently informed about the inventory and the characteristics of individual products. Mobile devices also offer assistance in this case. If employees are equipped with them, they have access to sales relevant information at any time and are able to optimize customer service in doing so.

”Playground“ for shopping solutions of the future: the real,- Future Store

There are multifaceted possibilities with which retail can get ready for the future. METRO GROUP is testing new technologies and innovative service concepts at the real,- Future Store in Tönisvorst. Among these innovations for the practical use are for instance self-service checkouts, intelligent scales and radio-frequency identification (RFID). In a second article on the December Topic of the Month (insert link to article), introduces the real,- Future Store.

The changing face of retail

The rapidly changing general conditions that are for the most part due to further growth of technology, which permeates all areas of retail and society, are a big challenge for retailers. Customers are better informed and become more demanding as it pertains to the shopping experience.

Yet this growth of technology also offers many advantages for the retail market, which it simply needs to know how to utilize. This makes a more direct and more individualized sales approach possible. The more the current technologies become accepted, the more often customers will also demand them and take their availability for granted. If retailers open up to the possibilities these new technologies entail and if they use them to develop new concepts and services, it creates the best conditions to actively participate in the future of shopping.

Daniel Stöter,


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