The Changing Face of Retail

Margo Layton

Fast Company published an article this week outlining the four ways in which the way we shop will change forever.

  • The Big-Box Store Evolves to Survive
  • Services Beat Goods
  • It’s About Convenience…or Experience
  • Physical Stores Gain Website Transparency.

A couple of these are expected – we know that Sears, Macy’s and most of the big players are trying desperately to reinvent themselves – but I was particularly interested in trends #2 and #3, especially as we work to make sense of what omnichannel consumption really means for consumers and for brands. 

To me, one simple phrase from the article sums up omnichannel consumption: “we go places for people, not things.” In other words, we are increasingly conditioned to stay home and order via mobile or web anything that can be shipped via free, two-day delivery. Subconsciously, we probably all divide the universe of physical goods using that one single criteria. Why go to CVS for toilet paper when I can jump on Amazon Prime, purchase via mobile with one click, and it’ll be here tomorrow? Conversely, we will absolutely leave our houses for anything that incorporates a human component, whether service or experience (I’d argue that the line between the two is often blurred). This is why fast casual has done so well, it’s why single-service beauty has boomed, it’s why CVS has incorporated Minute Clinics. 

As we look to our own portfolio companies and investment candidates, I think the line of demarcation in this article is a great one and can help us properly map out the roles of each selling channel and what’s required for and of each channel to be successful. Online, we’re buying things (and the way in which we by those things must be seamless); in-store, we expect a human element that we cannot find or recreate on our own. The brand that does not use its physical storefront to define itself through service or experience is the brand that faces the biggest challenges in 2017 and beyond.

I highly recommend taking a few minutes to check out the full article here