Brian Solis is an analyst and futurist who often have interesting views that challenge conventional wisdom. I saw an article he published a few months ago focused on the retail industry where he listed eleven trends reshaping retail globally and what caught my attention was how few of the trends I had seen commented on by other analysts.

Take a look at three of the eleven trends he mentions.

  • Invest in the trust economy, be transparent, and earn reciprocity through facilitation of open engagement and commerce.
  • Balance webrooming and showrooming by investing in mutually-beneficial experiences and outcomes on both sides.
  • Take a fresh look at space and consider it a blank slate. Ask yourself and your team, what if we could build a physical store that brought the digital and real-world together to deliver intuitive and indispensable experiences? That’s what Amazon is doing.

Just consider how different this advice is when compared to what the retailers were focused on just five years ago. In fact, building on what Brian says, I think there are questions that retailers need to ask today about their entire business model. We are no longer just talking about how to improve the customer experience – changing customer expectations may in fact be redefining how your company lives or dies. To start with I would suggest thinking about these three topics:

  • What are you doing? What products do you sell? Is there a better way for customers to engage with your products than through a retail store? I’ve often talked about Dollar Shave Club in the past, but it’s always worth exploring how they turned the men’s grooming market upside down by shifting from retail to a subscription model. Should you be exploring similar innovations in your own area of retail? If you sell shirts, couldn’t that also work as a subscription business?
  • Accept that customers use mobile devices. The omni-channel customer is a reality. Customers research products online, then come to stores to see them in person and they also carry out research in-store. Accept that webrooming and showrooming happens. You can’t fight it. Blend the online and in-store experience so you embrace how customers research and purchase products today.
  • Create relationships. Customer service now is not just transactional and based on a customer contacting a brand because they have a problem they can’t fix. Customers actually want a better relationship with retail brands and they will engage in social discussions if you provide the opportunity for them to say something.

The future of retail is not just being defined by drones and mobile payment options. It may be that you need to entirely rethink your business model because what has worked for decades no longer works when customers have unlimited information and choice in their pocket. Take a look at the complete list of trends Brian Solis wrote about and let me know what you think might be important in 2018 by leaving a comment here  or get in touch via my LinkedIn.