Retail is changing — or is it?
Author: Alain Bejjani — CEO, Majid Al Futtaim — Holding
Spending time trying to predict the future is an exercise in futility. Instead, history has shown us that the only way to predict the future is to shape it — to actively work towards it.
Two pieces of recent news reminded me of that. First, that Google is opening its first permanent retail store, which will sell its phones, wearables and other products; host workshops and provide repair and troubleshooting services; and, perhaps most importantly, allow customers to try before they buy.
Second, this compelling interview about the rise of anywhere commerce and headless checkouts — basically, making shopping and checkouts possible on any digital channel where customers are, from car dashboards to bike screens.
A few things to consider as we digest these happenings:
· First, that the world’s leading tech stores are increasingly opting for physical presence underlines the irreplaceability of these. It seems, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of brick-and-mortar have been greatly exaggerated. Although the shift to online is undoubtedly here to stay, this is not a zero-sum game — both will work together.
· Second, this also does not mean the continuation of business as usual. Since debuting its first cashierless store early last year, Amazon has spread its model to other retailers and internationally. The technology involved and the resulting improvements in the traditional pain point of checkouts, has made this a very interesting proposition.
· Thirdly, all told, this very much comes down to experience. Ultimately all these changes lead to an improved experience for customers, whether it means being able to try on wearable devices or VR glasses, simplifying how and where people can buy what they need, or simply having an easier and faster shopping experience.
How we use our knowledge about our customers and what they want and create or improve solutions to address those needs and wants will determine our success. That is an integral part of what we at Majid Al Futtaim term experiencism. In short, it’s about making things better, creating Great Moments in every sphere.
How soon can we expect to see these changes in our part of the world? All I can say for now is — stay tuned.