The Future of Retail: 10 Trends of Tomorrow

Retailing will become more personalized, collaborative and socially influenced in the future, according to new research

LondonJuly 23, 2015—A report, titled The Future of Retail: 10 Trends of Tomorrow and featuring case studies from retailers around the globe, warns that retailers should begin preparing themselves for another few years of significant structural change.

Natalie Berg, retail insights director and author of the report, commented: “Retailing has undergone seismic shifts over the past five years and we believe that further fundamental changes are just around the corner. By 2020, we predict that shoppers will have to pay for home delivery, traditional points-based loyalty cards will become a thing of the past, pure-play retail will largely cease to exist and checkout-less stores will become a reality.

“A key theme across the 10 future trends is the need for collaboration. Retailers are finally beginning to recognize the benefits of working together both in bid for differentiation and providing a better service for the customer. We expect more retailers will join forces by 2020, primarily through in-store concessions or collection points for online orders.”


“When it comes to fulfillment of online orders, we believe there is a growing disconnect between shopper expectations and retailer capabilities. The competitive state of the sector has resulted in a proliferation of retail delivery services with lead times getting shorter and shorter. As a result, shoppers now expect delivery to be fast, reliable and—crucially—free. This is unsustainable in our view and we are beginning to see the first signs of cracks in the system. Looking to the future, we expect more retailers to begin charging for services such as home delivery and for low-value click-and-collect orders.

“Click-and-collect will continue to bridge the gap between online and offline retailing. Our own research shows that half of global shoppers are now influenced by a retailer’s ability to offer convenient collection points for online purchases. Click-and-collect is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s now a prerequisite.

“Looking ahead, retailers must follow their own golden rule by putting the customer first. For many, this will require collaboration with some unconventional partners to improve speed and quality of service, while providing additional choice for customers. The key will be to collaborate with non-competing chains that share an overlap in customer demographics, thus allowing the retailer to benefit from increased footfall and shopper satisfaction without the risk of sales cannibalization. It’s for this reason that we are expecting more retailers competing in different sectors—e.g. fashion and beauty—to join forces in the name of providing a best-in-class click-and-collect service.”

In-Store Technology

“The store of the future will be heavily influenced by technology. We expect more retailers—particularly the spacious, stock-keeping unit (SKU)-heavy hypermarkets—to invest in in-store navigation capabilities. In addition to the opportunity to better understand shopping habits, this technology is incredibly powerful as it enables the retailer to engage with shoppers just moments before potentially making a purchase.

“In the not too distant future, we also expect more shoppers to pay for items via their smartphones. The highly publicized launch of Apple Pay has certainly created a buzz around mobile payments, but we believe it will be some time before shopper usage catches up with awareness. In fact, our own research shows that only 20 percent of shoppers globally have used their mobile phones as a method of payment.

“Concerns over privacy and security must be addressed in order for mobile payments to be accepted beyond those early adaptors. Convenience, ease of use and providing tangible benefits for the shopper are essential. For example, some retailers have been testing checkout-less stores, allowing shoppers to use their smartphones to scan and pay for items as they add them to their basket.

“Retailers should also consider rewarding shoppers, potentially linking to loyalty schemes, as an incentive to make mobile payments. It’s for this reason that we believe in the long-term success of a more comprehensive mobile wallet as opposed to mobile payments as a standalone option. Although such technologies can help retailers to differentiate today, it’s important to bear in mind that this will also lead to greater customer expectations and, in the next five to 10 years, such technologies will simply become the norm.”


“We believe the end is nigh for points-based loyalty cards. The rise of shopper promiscuity and general strive for more honest, transparent pricing has had a detrimental impact on traditional loyalty schemes. That said, the notion of rewarding your most loyal, most profitable customers will never go away. The future will revolve around personalization, digitization and gamification. We would also encourage retailers to look towards value-added perks—as opposed to money-off vouchers—such as providing very important person (VIP) checkouts for cardholders or free hot drinks in store.”


“Retailers must be prepared to enter a new phase of mass personalization. Historically, brick-and-mortar players have struggled to replicate the level of personalization that can be found online. However, recent advances in beacon technology mean that targeted, real-time offers are now a reality. What’s more, Planet Retail research shows that 38 percent of global shoppers want to opt in to receiving relevant discounts when in store, compared to the 15 percent of shoppers currently doing this. This combination of shopper enthusiasm and technological capability means that brick-and-mortar retailers should be looking to take personalization to new heights, driving both customer loyalty and spend,” Berg concluded.

The 10 Future Trends:

  1. Fewer, but more impactful, stores.
  2. Working together to stand apart.
  3. Race for the most convenient store experience.
  4. Personalization to reach new heights.
  5. The end of points-based loyalty cards.
  6. Power of the peer.
  7. Cracking the final mile.
  8. Death of pure-play.
  9. Click and collect.
  10. From one click to no click.
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