The Future of Retail
I’m frequently asked what I believe the future of retail will look like. We often hear stories about how the end of days is coming for brick & mortar and that we’ll soon be replacing all in person interaction with mobile apps.
First off, this is a bit of an overreaction. The idea that all people will be comfortable replacing all physical interactions with digital ones is ridiculous. Just look at Amazon which has already opened physical bookstores in NYC and plans to open 2000+ physical stores around the country. While this may be of concern for many small and independent retailers it should also be viewed as an endorsement for brick & mortar from the leader of online retail itself.
With that said here’s a snapshot of what I believe the future of small and independent retail will look like.
Retailers will be educators
Retailers already are educators. Whenever someone asks me why I prefer brick & mortar over online purchases I always point to that simple fact. It’s important for the consumer to have a real person to talk to, especially in the pet industry. Many customers fall into a loop where they buy the same food and toys for the life of their animal. This doesn’t take into account new and healthier foods or less hazardous products. It’s for this reason that it’s so important for consumers to get knowledgeable feedback from well trained employees and store owners.
While a lot of retailers are already operating this way a big chunk still aren’t. It’s going to be incredibly important for retailers to provide a level of customer service that e-commerce alone cannot if they want to stay competitive.
Fulfillment will be decentralized
We’re already seeing the breakdown of the hub & spoke distribution model with services like ShopKetti and this is only going to accelerate. Between drop-shipping, autonomous delivery, and smaller fulfillment centers we’re going to see the complete decentralization of wholesale order fulfillment. Not just that, these same technologies will also allow retailers to offer different methods of fulfillment to consumers, both in stores and online.
Retailers & creators will partner
Going off the fulfillment idea, we’ll also see retailers and product creators partnering in specific cities and with specific products.
We’re going to see an increased erosion of the line separating retailers and product creators. As more product creators offer direct-to-consumer online purchasing there will be new opportunities for retailers to fulfill local product purchases and for those same retailers to partner with creators for fulfillment services. Have a back room that’s not in heavy use? Why not stock products for one of your favorite product creators and fulfill their local orders for them, for a price.
Your supply-chain in the cloud
This is something ShopKetti is currently working on. There currently no such thing as a unified supply chain for small and independent businesses, but that’s not always going to be the case. What if independent retailers could pool resources and take advantage of the same synergies big box retailers have, all while maintaining their independence. We already see retailers sending customers to other stores when they’re out of products, now what if you could place orders for those products and share part of your inventory with another store in your city? This will help retailers reduce costs while increasing the quality of the shopping experience for the consumer, a rare win-win!
These are just a few of the things I see changing for retailers. Sure, there will probably be a few growing pains along the way and it may take time to adjust to new shopping norms, but this is in no way the end of brick & mortar. If anything I see this as the next evolution for the in-person shopping experience and a great opportunity for independent businesses to make their mark.
ShopKetti is a wholesale platform connecting independent creators and retailers in the pet industry. Explore the community and join for free at shopketti.com