Independent Thinking Blog

The Future of Retail is Frictionless and Personalized

A new report says that the future of retail is increasingly frictionless and personalized.

Future of Retail 2016, by research firm PSFK Labs, identifies 10 factors that companies will want to put in place to build brand loyalty, engage with customers, and generate sales. The 10 factors are:

  • creating confidence
  • eliminating obstacles
  • democratizing access
  • recognizing and personalizing
  • promoting transparency
  • building key partnerships
  • optimizing ownership
  • cultivating community
  • encouraging advocacy
  • delivering delight

Make it easy to do business with you.

Starbucks makes it easy to order & pay

The report points to Hointer, a retailer that is deploying a “point and click app” and a shopping experience that delivers clothing to a dressing room for you. And they’re using robots. The idea is to make the process as simple as possible so that you stay with it — and keep coming back.

Of course, this isn’t just about bricks-and-mortar. Or even retail. How many times have you gone to a company’s Web site and searched fruitlessly for a phone number? Or looked for an email and found only a form? Did you stay or did you go elsewhere?

Make me feel special.

Personalize the experience

The rich have personal shoppers (or so I’ve been told); the rest of us search the racks in hopes of having enough style and common sense not to end up in an episode of What Not To Wear. But, seriously, who wouldn’t want someone else doing all that work for you?

The report identifies Stitch Fix, a company that operates as your personal shopper. It puts a service, once seen as unattainable, into our hands. Similarly, Uber and Lyft have brought the concept of chauffeured rides to the masses. What can you do to make your members, customers, or clients feel special?

Make me belong.

Cultivate Ownership

A key to building brand loyalty for any business is to give your customers a sense of investment in the business. The report identifies two key components to doing this: 24/7 support and what PSFK terms “cultivated expertise.” For example, REI offers classes in everything from bike maintenance 101 to guided hikes. They both bring you into the store and bring you together with other people like you.

Again, this doesn’t just apply to retail. Annual meetings, roundtables, online forums, Facebook groups, and member listservs are just a few of the ways that other organizations routinely bring their clients (or members, or vendors, and so forth) together to share their expertise and build a sense of shared community.

Dive into the Future of Retail 2016.

Which of these pillars are in place in your organization? What tweaks might you add to differentiate your business from the pack?

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