The retail sector has undergone immense upheaval over the last 20 years as sales have moved online and new, hugely successful entrants have changed the way we shop. Add the impact of the recession to this and the result is familiar high street names disappearing and many of the rest under extreme pressure. Retailers need to radically rethink their strategies for survival in a world where customer expectations, methods of transaction and supply chain relationships are all changing.

Ron Johnson, who created The Apple Store, said “A store has got to be much more than a place to acquire merchandise. It’s got to help people enrich their lives. If a store just fulfills a specific product need, it’s not creating new types of value for the consumer. It’s transacting.”

It sounds like a lot to ask – but if a store doesn’t offer more than product, why wouldn’t a customer just stay at home and buy online?  Of course, most retailers have to develop a strategy that works across both online and bricks-and-mortar – and an experience that is aligned for the customer.

A few are already doing it well.  One great example is C&A in Brazil, which has found a way of bringing online and offline experiences together by displaying Facebook ‘likes’ for products in-store. See how they do it here. In the US, JC Penney’s giant in store findmore touch screens allow shoppers to view the retailer’s full online offering, check stock levels in stores, share products with friends and scan product bar codes to access additional information and recommendations.  And take a look at the awesome Nike FuelStation recently opened in London, which takes customer experience to a whole new level.

New and innovative methods of payment are being launched across the globe that will alter the way we transact with retailers and offer a huge opportunity to build loyalty. Starbucks, for example, has introduced a sophisticated mobile app and payment system that lets customers load cash onto their mobile phone, which then displays a barcode baristas can scan at the register.

Amazing developments – but perhaps not yet our day-to-day shopping experience.  There is a great deal of ground for a lot of retailers to catch up – and they need to do it quick.

This is such a dynamic sector that TomorrowToday’s has asked its Strategic Insights team to delve deeper into everything retail so that we can get a fantastic understanding of what the future looks like.. If you have any great examples to share with us, please do!

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