It is no secret that the retail landscape is changing everyday. Ranging from online web stores to large marketplaces to physical stores, the industry is constantly evolving. So, what does the future of retail look like? What are the factors that will further transform the retail landscape, and what does this mean for you and your business?
Although 5 years in the future sounds extremely distant, it's closer than you think. Keep in mind that if we backtrack 5 years to 2014, this is when we saw the emergence of marketplaces, which had a major impact on online shopping. Furthermore, we have seen mobile shopping become bigger and better, and paying online has become easier and faster than ever. Aside from online shopping, we are also seeing that offline shopping has picked up again, but in a different way than we’ve seen in the past. Customers no longer want to buy cheap products in mass, they are now seeking out unique products with a story to tell.
If we fast forward to the year 2024, it’s hard for us to believe that interpreting data can become even more efficient than it is now. Artificial Intelligence is becoming more sophisticated and accessible every year. Data is now being collected on a larger scale and being linked to central systems. For retailers, this means that very soon there will be even clearer customer insights, whether the customers are shopping online or in-store.
Staying one step ahead of the customer by offering them products and services that are tailored to their desires will soon become the norm. Nowadays, algorithms based on consumer data collection sometimes miss the point. For example, you might see recommendations for a hotel that you visited a week earlier, but of course you’re not going to visit the hotel so soon after. By 2024, situations like this be less common as data surrounding product recommendations will be used much more effectively.
Some of the most important developments in the consumer electronics industry will take place within the Augmented Reality sector. The expectation is that the entire shopping experience will soon be affected by advances in AR. There has been lots of speculation surrounding this in the past, but nothing substantial has resulted. However, with Apple bringing the first ever AR glasses to the market next year, we can soon expect to see a lot of buzz in the electronics industry. As Apple completely transformed the smartphone market with their iPhone, it is plausible to think that they will do the same thing with their adaptation of AR.
For the retail industry, this means that both the online and in-store experience need to become even more in line with one another. With AR, customers can be in store and receive a digital overlay of the store which they can then use to shop online for products. On the flip side, they can be in their own living room and digitally see an overview of the store. AR is creeping up faster than you might think, and it will inevitably have a huge impact on the shopping experience, once again transforming the retail landscape as we know it today.
Bol.com and Coolblue are the known names within the Netherlands, however, they have it harder than ever before. Bol.com is barely profitable and Coolblue is still trying to revamp their customer service. Both players are even working offline with physical stores to maintain their added value.
Amazon has already conquered the world and is now about to make a big splash in the Netherlands. What does this mean for Bol.com and Coolblue? We saw Marktplaats.nl get taken over by eBay because they were unable to conquer the market, so the question is, will we see Amazon do the same thing? In the coming 5 years, we should have more clarity on this.
At the very least, we will certainly see battles amongst the big platforms as they will need to compete in different ways to retain their added value. For consumers, this will be advantageous, but the larger platforms will definitely suffer.
Aside from Amazon, we also need to look at the influence coming from China. More and more, Alibaba and Aliexpress are becoming reliable platforms. They already have distribution centers in Europe, with delivery times to the Netherlands being just one week. We can only expect their services to get even better over the next 5 years, which will of course have a large impact on many smaller online retailers.
By 2024, unforeseen situations are bound to affect the rollout of how things change within the retail landscape. Despite this slight degree of unpredictability, it would wise to get ahead of the game by responding to the expectations of where the industry is headed. Getting your data collection in order and paying more attention to your product presentation are things you can do to give your business a big leg up for the future. Buy getting your affairs in order now, it will be easier to quickly adapt to future trends.