A massive upheaval is underway in the retail industry which could well impact the very future of how consumers buy their goods. For decades, retailers were content to continue displaying selected wares, advertising their availability, and waiting for customers to come through the door to pick out what they needed. The advent of e-commerce, however, has turned that quaint idea on its head. It turns out that consumers are more than willing to use their smartphones or digital devices to perform their shopping tasks, and then wait for the product purchases to arrive at their door. The devastating results can be seen in the high number of retail bankruptcies and closed stores.
There is still something to be said for the retail experience, but it will need a big boost from emerging technologies to replicate the benefits of the online efficiencies while retaining the uniqueness of the in-store experience. Consumers like to shop, look, touch, and see what they are buying. They want to be able to visualize something in-person, easily compare the alternatives, and receive suggestions for complementary purchases, all with the benefit of instant gratification.