Where is retail going?

images-2There have been a lot of articles written in the last few weeks about the death of malls.  I have written about this in the past. I believe the merging of ecommerce and brick and mortar commerce will be in the future.  The balance will change but an evolution is beginning to take place right now.

It is pretty easy to purchase anything you need online.  Groceries, books, cars, clothing, etc.  There are a few things that you actually have to go into a store for.  Getting your haircut is one although you can probably get someone to come to your house.  Manicure and pedicures is another although there are more than a few apps for nail color but not a good foot soak.  Is it important to go to get a store for your kid to try on their first pair of shoes?  You don’t have to go out to see a movie and my guess is soon enough we will be able to watch first run films online.  You can order in food and even have a chef come cook for you.  You get the point.
I can continue on but the gist is that technology has allowed us the ability to basically do anything without having to leave the comfort of our lives.  We no longer have to build hours into our day to run the basic errands when they can all be taken care of with a click.
There is still the importance of human contact.  There is something to be said for getting out more.  What is retail going to look like in 2020?  Let’s take a look at the mall for one.  Huge massive structures where people used to shop for sport are empty.  Pushed out not only by ecommerce but the overwhelming sameness of chains.  There is nothing unique about each structure except one might have a bunch of higher end stores than another.  You could go to one of these malls, close your eyes and be anywhere in the US.
Real estate is expensive.  More malls will convert into communities that are a mixture of residential homes, art installations, movie houses, pop-up stores and and they will have to become creative to get you to go (unless of course you live there).
When you take your kid to Stride-Rite why isn’t there another shop in the store where you can get their hair cut too?  Why isn’t there a fresh baked cookie bar?  How do you make these brick and mortar stores unique with editions that can only be seen and purchased in store?  Why isn’t there a fantastic coffee bar in every retail store or even a wine tasting area?  Should there be a merger or a bunch of stores that together make a most interesting go to place?
There are many concept shops being rolled out.  Most are long standing but they are on to something.  When we were in Europe this past September every city we went to had a new one and many of them were geared towards men not women.  Fascinating.
Lots of conversations taking place around the future of retail.  It will be fun to watch and it will be even more fun to be involved in it after all the beginnings of my career started in retail.