The future for retail is bright but the road is rocky

Image credit: LianeM /

Research from Juniper may well predict that consumer retail spend will increase by 25% in the next three years but that does not mean that it will be easy.

For one thing the practice that must drive retail companies mad – window shopping in store and buying the same stuff on the internet – is spreading. Even in the staid and established world of antiques the practice is widespread. High end home owners will happily spend their weekends strolling through the antique markets of London, New York and Hong Kong. Then they will just as happily go home, pour themselves a glass of wine and look for the items they photographed in the various shops – online. And in antiques the differences can be enormous.

Many retail companies are in trouble. Mainly, it seems, they are chain stores and mainly on the High Street (if such a thing even exists anymore).

Juniper Research believes that payment providers have a great opportunity to help the emerging (probably emerged) world of online/offline retail make the $6 trillion opportunity happen. The firm believes that cart abandonment is still very high and friction at the ‘check out’ is a primary cause.

Yet there are – possibly slightly unethical – techniques which are alive and well and addressing this problem already.

Try this at home: go on to a website and select an item you want (big ticket items work best). Get as far as the check out, making sure to leave your mobile number along the way (sign up to a club or newsletter) and then abandon the transaction. Then go and make a cup of coffee or pour yourself a glass of wine and wait for the phone call. It will almost always result in the company involved dropping the price and offering free shipping or something similar.

The research also pointed to retail chains having to cut physical stores further but one-click payments, local currencies, speed of delivery and convenience would ultimately bring the growth they forecast.

At the same time, investment should be directed towards local hubs and already success is emerging in unlikely places such as the poorer areas of the UK. Success here is coming from creating destinations, not just placing your supermarket or store outside the city centre to avoid traffic and parking problems.

Retail, like many other established industries are being disrupted and the incumbents are being tipped into chaos.

That said, the future ultimately looks bright but imagination will be needed to succeed.

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