Millennials Want All Retail To Operate In The Digital Realm

Brick-and-mortar retailers are on notice — shifting customer demographics will require far-reaching redesign of the physical store by 2025.

According to a new study from technology market intelligence firm ABI Research, millennials are driving a revolution in how stores use technology to provide a shopping experience.

“Millennials play a large role in the in-store shopping revolution, as their smartphones are basically an evolutionary extension that the retail industry has yet to catch up with,” said Patrick Connolly, principal analyst at ABI Research. “The conceptual battle between brick and mortar versus online is dead. All retailers must become omnichannel and harness the power of the smartphone by developing next-generation, personalized experiences.”

As retailers do not only have one type of shopper, ABI recommends stores leverage technologies such as beacons, camera analytics, VLC cross-platform media streaming, and Wi-Fi. Using the smartphone as a platform then creates a new way for retailers to personally engage and target customers, while also opening a new advertising revenue channel.

In addition to installing in-store technologies such as multi-touch tables, kiosks, and beacons, ABI also advises brick-and-mortar retailers to upgrade and aggregate data across all physical, online and mobile outlets. This allows a holistic understanding of the customer, which in turn enables personalized offerings, streamlined processes, and new customer services.

Once retailers combine data with innovations around inventory, POS systems, and online information, ABI says there a multiplier effect on the functionality and ROI retailers obtain from their technology investments.

“The retail industry is notoriously slow at embracing new technology, but CEOs should view early adoption as a huge opportunity to rejuvenate their brand, while establishing themselves as industry disruptors,” said Connolly. “By 2025, we will be exposed to a new shopping world in which the value of a physical store will no longer be measured in sales, queuing will not exist, any surface will be a storefront, customers will be able to find and buy any item at any time, and clothing will be shared, tried on virtually, and printed at home. The path to the future should start today for smart retailers.

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