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Retailing in the future: how to survive

Image: Anders Sorman-Nilsson via Thinque

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Speaking in Sydney recently, futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson outlined what retailing in the future will look like.

Using his family’s menswear business in Stockholm, Sweden as an example, Sorman-Nilsson said that in the future retailers will have to fight harder for consumer dollars. He explained that to survive, retailers will need to “totally redesign the customer journey”.

Unlike other futurists who might get caught up in the appeal of artificial intelligence and bots, Sorman-Nilsson said retailers need to embrace both their customers’ digital minds along with their analogue hearts.

His mum currently runs the family business, Georg Sorman, which has been in operation for over 100 years, and Sorman-Nilsson said it is a struggle for her to embrace the digitisation of retail. However, he stressed that even legacy retailers like this need to innovate.

“We are no longer living in the retail experience economy,” he explained at Inside Retail Live. “Next is the transformation economy. Consumers want products that can upgrade their lives.”

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Sorman-Nilsson pointed to car manufacturer Tesla as an example of this. Thanks to software updates, a Tesla car will improve over time, adding functionality and enhancing performance.

Stores will have to buy into this constant improvement, said Sorman-Nilsson, and sell not just a product but the service and solution the product provides.

“The store of the future is a transformational experience; it’s no longer just a distribution centre…

“We are now taking matters into our own hands as consumers, we want to think long term, we want to think smart and we want to think sustainably.”

Retailers should take inspiration from automated purchasing, which lets consumers walk out without experiencing any friction with payment. Uber is a good example of this, with customers able to exit the vehicle in a way that feels like ‘stealing’ as they have not had to hand over any cash or a card.

“We need to move away from friction for the consumer and to omnichannel, personalised, contextual retail,” said Sorman-Nilsson. “The future is already here, get inspired.”

 

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