Will our favorite stores soon be introducing robot sales staff? Or will we be doing all our shopping online with avatars and virtual stores in the future? The retail trade’s digital transformation is an inevitability and, as a result, it is in an almost constant process of change. The QVC trend study “Retail 2036: The future of shopping in Germany” revealed that future consumer trends will include certain personalized products, virtual worlds and digital shopping assistants. So there will be lots of opportunities for entrepreneurs who are passionate about their products. We’ve summarized the study’s key findings below.
Is the human factor on its way out?
According to the study, virtual shopping environments and augmented or virtual reality are realistic scenarios for 2036, as are robots and avatars as shop assistants. German consumers have nothing against that – as long as they get good service. Almost every second survey respondents (48 percent) said, “If the service is good and friendly, I don’t care if it’s a computer or a person.” But not everyone agreed – because ultimately, it is the human factor that makes the difference. The study revealed that respondents of all ages believe that interactions in the real world will continue to be important in the future. In other words, we won’t be able to dispense human interaction in the shopping world entirely because we value the advice of real people too much. So retail startups that want to survive and thrive will have to find the right balance of digital, human and customer relationships. They have to focus on knowing their customers and their needs!
Personalized (product) world
Another future shopping trend is personalization. More than 70 percent of German consumers – 68 percent of men and 81 percent of women – love specialized products that are tailored to their preferences and needs. So startups specializing in personalized products will have a good chance of doing well in this competitive market. Made-to-measure garments or food products with personalized flavors will be all the rage – and the more outrageous the idea, the more loyal the customers will be.
Smart homes have been around for a while now. But what is smart shopping all about? People want shopping to be a faster and easier process in the future. One in three Germans (32 percent) can imagine automated shopping at the touch of a button to replenish supplies of coffee capsules, toothpaste, washing detergent and other household consumables. We can even imagine sending a robot to the supermarket to do the weekly household shopping. But not for pleasure shopping. Younger consumers in particular, make a strong differentiation between regular shopping and pleasure shopping. That’s an important piece of information for startups. If they sell products in the “pleasure shopping” category, they will have to use storytelling, and create a unique – analog and digital – shopping experience that the consumer really enjoys. If they can fascinate and surprise shoppers, they will soon turn them into regular customers and their store into a favorite shopping haunt. That’s something robots can’t do!