Given the rapid pace of technological change and shifting consumer expectations, the retail store of today will likely look quite different five to 10 years from now.
"The standard build-out of a retail space is all being re-imagined as each day goes by, with more innovative, energy saving and technologically advanced ideas," says Andrew Swedenborg, executive vice president of King Retail Solutions in Eugene, Ore.
Certain trends already taking shape provide clues about what the retail store might look like as we approach the year 2020. Here's a sneak peek at what will shape the store of the future.
Decentralizing the store: The traditional retail layout and purchase experience are changing rapidly, as wireless technology allows customers to pay for merchandise anywhere in the store.
"The Apple Store concept is changing the landscape of how we shop," says Kevin Horn, vice president at RTKL, a Baltimore-based global design firm. "There's no central cash register, and a sales associate can ring you up while you're looking at a product, which makes it a much more engaged experience."
In addition, the receipt can be sent by email, while mobile apps like Square and Intuit allow you to pay using your smartphone instead of plastic.
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Buying an experience: As online purchasing becomes more popular, bricks-and-mortar stores will need to focus more on the experiential rather than the transactional. Because national brands are available in every city and on the Internet, the new stars will be local retailers that become a destination and offer a social experience. For example, instead of trying to get someone to simply buy a saucepan, offer a cooking class first and then promote the pan, Horn says.
"There's a shift away from buying a product to buying an experience, or personal betterment and fulfillment." Ron Singler, a principal at Callison, a Seattle-based architecture and retail design firm, believes stores will offer multiple experiences to keep the customer engaged.
For example, Terrain, a store started by Anthropologie, combines plants, a restaurant, books, furniture and more – all customized to the specific location.