The Future of Retail

By September 29, 2017Evolve Insights

Businesses keep evolving. This is evident across all sectors and retailers have not been left behind. For example, retail stores as we know them today did not exist in the past and are unlikely to exist in the future. Globally, the retail sector continues to advance. It is a sector that is expected to have a bright future given its important role in the life of every human being.

In Kenya, the retail sector has made major milestones. Unfortunately, the sector has also failed to live up to expectations. We have witnessed the leading retailers come down crumbling. Will there be a new dawn for the retail sector in Kenya? Here are key trends that are influencing the retail globally and which will play a key role in determining the future of retail in Kenya.

Smaller Neighbourhood Stores

When mega stores were introduced, they were a big hit. Customers could shop for everything needed under one roof. However, this is changing. With limited time to spend in stores, customers no longer want to crisscross mega shopping stores in search of specific items. As such, we are likely to see more smaller specialty stores sprouting in our neighbourhoods. Such stores stock a specific line of items such as groceries, electronics, fruits and vegetables, beauty products, apparel for specific target customers, furniture and the like.

These smaller stores will make it easier for customers to pick up what they need within the shortest time possible. Such stores are popular in cities where many shoppers use public transport. When using public transport, bulk purchases can be troublesome. Smaller stores may not completely wipe out the mega sores concept, however new mega stores are likely to be more selective in their choice of location.

New Retail Concepts
As retail evolves, we have witnessed many new retail concepts. We have seen the store within a store concept, bargain grocery shopping has been advanced and so has wholesale retail shopping when customers can buy in bulk. Other retail concepts have included integration of online shopping and physical stores as well as the stocking of own brands. Other new concepts such that advanced by MUJI a retailer founded in Japan for selling of no brand but quality goods are spreading. Innovation in the retail space is likely to continue with retailers seeking ways to differentiate themselves in a marketplace that is already crowded.

Personalized Experiences
Retailers hoping to survive into the future must give a personalized experience. Fortunately, retailers have a huge amount of data that they can use to better understand their customers. In addition, most loyalty programs give retailers data on specific customer’s purchase behaviour. This data can be analysed to identify trends and preferences that would help give personalized experiences both during online shopping and even during visits to the stores. As the digital generation gains a higher purchasing power, their preference for a personalized experience is evident.

Today’s customers are seeking affordable but quality products and a painless and swift experience. As such, retailers must rethink their customers’ overall shopping experience by looking at both the products they stock and the experience that their customers go through before during and after the purchase.

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy