Saw this piece from the WSJ, and they’re certainly onto a significant change sweeping across physical retail these past few years.
Sure, we’re seeing the rationale by way of the “rise in ecommerce” (15% of all commerce now) and a “growing distaste for giant emporiums”, but Ms. King also points out behaviors are changing to smaller spaces for dine-in delivery and grocery delivery apps, negating the urge to visit large retail areas.
But as these perspectives usually go, there’s a broad swath of American shoppers who don’t live inside city densities, and don’t have access to a myriad of stay-at-home delivery services. Plus… swaths of Americans are also moving out of city centers, which beckons a difference kind of retail angle:
Retailers are trying to get closer to customers who are moving to the suburbs, working from home a few days a week and want the convenience of drive-through and curbside pickup.
Additionally, most malls have shifted gears to focus on food halls and hospitality, as well as ramping up loyalty programs and data monetization with advertising partners. When the game changes, the businesses adopt.
A major omission from this piece, however, is the future (my prediction) trend of maximizing ever-smaller spaces with virtual environments. While this still may seem a ways off, the use of mixed-reality and spacial computing devices, especially advanced ones like Apple’s upcoming Vision platform, will allow retailers to turn any space – including one’s own home – into a simulacrum of a brand store, bursting with virtual aisles of perusable products projected in their actual shape and size.
The next decade in retail is going to get weird.