Today's consumer has vastly different and more sophisticated expectations of product, service, value and environment than five or even three years ago.
In the new multichannel reality, the boundaries between virtual and physical space are becoming blurred and retailers are being forced to question the role and function of stores in an environment where their relevance to the connected consumer is increasingly subject to challenge.
While the role of the store is under question, even the most pessimistic commentators do not seem to be predicting the complete demise of the store. There will remain a role for physical space albeit in a different format and potentially radically smaller scale.
Retailers need to develop an understanding of how consumer behaviours are evolving and the impact of these changes on consumer expectations both in and outside of the physical retail location. The customer experience is changing as consumers adapt and become more connected: they are constantly connected to the internet through smart, portable, and highly usable devices; they are in control of the technology they use and also expect the latest technology from retailers. As consumers become savvier, they are increasingly taking charge of their own shopping experience, identifying and leveraging many different sources of information and channels to optimize the different elements of their shopping journey.
The role of the store needs to evolve to become one part of a much more complex relationship between the retailer and consumer, it needs to find a new balance between providing inspiration and emotional engagement while offering new ways of experiencing the breadth and depth of the range; and do this in a consistent and relevant way across all channels.
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With gratitude to Patrick Lencioni www.tablegroup.com