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Back to (the Store of) the Future

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As the retail industry hurtles through 2022 at a great pace here’s our take on some of the predictions and ideas we saw at #RTS2022.

The Hand-Paid Tale 

At the ‘Future Gazing’ talk at #RTS2022, developing in-store payments was a hot topic. Many of the speakers suggest payment needs to be quicker – using technology like facial recognition to streamline point of sale. 

Particularly relevant was the part of the talk that explored the microchip payment that lets you pay with your hand. In one of my favourite moments, Andrew Busby turned to the room to gauge a response and only three people voted that they’d feel comfortable with a microchip implant… I can’t say I stand with that minority.  

2022: A Store Odyssey 

How can we make the synergy between the digital and the physical experience more seamless and more sustainable? The ‘Future Gazing’ talk at RTS examined this gap and reiterates what we all know – that physical retail is all about experience. As we know, eCommerce has become a very important channel, so retailers must be prepared to re-think their store experience – to support their digital channels and ensure future profitability. A future which some suggest is already here, with the continued development of omnichannel shopping. 

But stores still have a vital role to play in the omnichannel landscape, as it’s been proven again and again. Digital channels can deliver a great brand experience wherever they are, but stores are vital to inspire and engage customers in a way the internet can’t.   

The Boutique at the end of the Metaverse 

When discussing customer experience, it would be foolish to not consider the elephant in the room which is Zuckerberg’s Metaverse. ICYMI: the Metaverse is a 3D model of the internet; a place parallel to the physical world, where people can live digitally. However, in a surprising turn of events, the Metaverse is opening a brick-and-mortar store.  

Zuckerberg’s ambitions for the Metaverse are vast, but convincing the real world to adapt to a digital one is tricky. Despite the media hype, 48% of teenagers are uninterested in the metaverse, and only 16% of Americans can correctly describe it. 

On May 9, Meta will open their first store in Burlingame, California and will try to engage the meta-ambivalent through a hands-on, curated experience – which means sampling VR headsets, AR glasses and smart video calling. 

A move like this underlines a thriving future for the high-street, even for digital giants like Meta. Retailers can still attract customers with experience they can only have in-store.  

Data Wars: A New Hope 

As always, there was a lot of focus on data at #RTS2022 – neatly separated into two core topics: 1. Customers and their data; and 2. How can retailers make sense of all their data? 

“Data is like garbage. You had better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it.” This famous misquote is often attributed to Mark Twain – but it’s a good sense check for data hungry retailers. 

Retailers must avoid frustrating customers by collecting data they don’t use.  Constanze Freienstein notes: “you have my data, do something great with it – intelligently!”  

One of the unexpected highlights of the conference was Sam Jones and Tinie Tempah’s keynote fireside chat on the value of data and the responsibility of retailers. As consumers demand more control over their data, retailers must be transparent with how they are using their customers’ data. As Sam and Tinie noted, they must “empower people to be in charge of their own data” 

Looking for ways to see how StorIQ can assist in your retail operations? Click here to see what our platform could do to improve your retail employee experience. Or click here to download StorIQ’s RETAIL THRIVES AGAIN eBook.

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