The biggest challenges facing retailers in 2020 and beyond
We stand at the dawn decade and – if the last 10 years were anything to go by – we can guarantee retail will continue to evolve, develop and change at pace.
Certain aspects will remain universal; people – and the human touch – will remain at retail’s heart, as they have done for generations. However, continued advances in technology, machine learning and AI combined with changing customer behaviour mean the best retailers are going to have to constantly adapt to stay ahead of the competition, deliver a seamless customer experience and be successful.
As we step into 2020, retailers the world over face a unique set of challenges. But what do these challenges look like and how are they shaping the future of retail?
We posed the question to different figures from the retail industry and here’s what they told us:
Peter Lindståhl, CEO at Nordic Retail & Sports who runs the Under Armour Brand House
“In too many stores service is bad and the store associates don’t have time or a genuine interest in their customers.
“Historically, the industry has talked about online and in-store as two separate entities. This isn’t the reality we see today. Things have changed during the last 20 years and now we’re talking about how these two sides can help each other and meet in the middle.
“To survive retailers have to adapt to new behaviors. They have to create a unique experience and the right environment with the right scent, the right music, and the right technology in their stores. They also need to find the right location for their stores and build harmony in their teams so the store associates genuinely wants to help the customer find the right products and provide them with the best service.”
Massimo Casali, Regional Sales Vice President, Footlocker
“We need to think of brick and mortar and online as one single entity – and we need to think of all the sales channels combined together, at the same time. If retailers don’t do this, they won’t survive. We need to make sure we keep a human touch so we can stay close to the customer and to help them.
“We also need to be fast. We need to be fast in keeping up with technology because customers are very knowledgeable and, today, we need to be armed with more knowledge in order to sell something. Technology can help us do this. And we need to be fast on fulfillment and in store to keep customers satisfied. Customers will no longer except long lines in store or slow delivery times.”
Tim Bourne, CEO, Exposure, brand agency working with brands such as LEGO, Nike and Levi’s
“The world splits in retail between companies that are very proactive and engaged in the relationship between the physical experience and the online world, and those that aren’t. Some of those who aren’t are extremely successful craft retailer who don’t need to be, but the vast majority who aren’t engaged in that relationship need to be.
“Retail is now a real-time experience, where you take the expectations from the online world and make them a reality. Online is accelerating people’s expectations and when they don’t get that replicated in the real world, they’re disappointed.
“The future of retail is about delivering the best possible experience to consumers. Technology has a key role to play here and can enhance the physical experience – like how a modern version of a self-checkout system can not only improve the customer experience but also increase sales. We’re only at the early stages of what technology in retail can do and it’s super-exciting to see how this will develop in the future.”
Caroline Atwood, CEO, Ally Capelino
“The essence of retail has to be remembered – and that’s the customer. People are forgetting that understanding human behaviour is at the crux of being successful. The fact technology is becoming easier, simpler to use and more agile means we’re perfectly positioned to take this understanding to the next level and deliver an even better experience.
“The people who stay ahead of the competition are the ones who understand that ‘humans plus technology’ is the recipe for success and then seamlessly combine them together to add to the traditional drama and theatre retail can bring.”
Carolina Osborne, Brand Manager Europe, Gap
“The biggest challenges retailers face is the integration of ecommerce with traditional retail and coping with the ways customer behaviour is changing. Ultimately, as retailers, we now serve a customer who is very well connected, educated and are changing how and where they interact with retail brands – it’s these challenges we need to meet.”
If you’d like to learn more about how a cloud-based mPOS platform can help you overcome retail’s biggest challenges in 2020 and beyond we’d love to talk to you. You can contact us here