How Megatrends transform Retail
In 1916, the first self-service store was opened in Memphis, USA. In the ”Piggly Wiggly Store" it was possible to walk by the shelves, make one´s choice and then pay at the cashier. It was not necessary to queue up anymore but, nevertheless, the adoption was very sluggish. In Europe, self-service stores had their breakthrough later in the 1950s. The supermarkets were born. They have transformed and increased our consumption dramatically.
The next big change was – easy to guess – the internet. The first online purchase by a private person happened in 1984. Jane Snowball became the world’s first online home shopper. She placed an order from her local Tesco supermarket in the UK. Due to the technical progress in internet technologies, e-commerce and online shopping started in the middle of the 1990s. In 1995, two of today’s biggest players launched their stores and – again - changed the way we shop: Amazon and eBay.
Since the start of online shopping a lot of things have changed. Nearly all producers and merchants have an online shopping option, regardless whether it is a big steel producer, consumer goods merchant or the small farmer who sells fresh meat. Almost every good and service can be purchased via the internet and 1.8 billion people are doing just that. 53% of the world´s population are linked with the internet and about 25% are shopping in the worldwide web.
Today, we are about to face the next big transformation. There is no sector that is that strongly influenced by megatrends than the retail sector.
First, there are many social trends and they are changing the way what and how we shop, for instance:
- Attention Economy – new ways of marketing are required to win the attention of people.
- Individualization und customization.
- Distrust Society – trusted content and technologies.
- Sustainability – reducing waste and CO2 footprint.
Second, a lot of new digital technologies are mature and ready to transform the retail industry now.
- Artificial Intelligence and digital shopping assistants.
- Big Shopping Data for targeted offers and optimization of supply chains.
- Virtual Experience in online shops or stationary stores.
- Digital Technologies for pricing, payment and transport.
- 3D Printing at shops or even at home.
- And many more.
These two factors alone demonstrate that there is a high need and potential for innovation in commerce, for instance
- New solutions for delivery, especially for the expensive last mile, e.g. through drones,
- more comfort through robots and virtual assistants,
- individualization and customization of products, e.g. through 3D printing,
- targeted offers and optimized supply chains through big data analytics, and
- elimination of packaging to achieve zero waste.
These are just a few ideas how technology can potentially transform the shopping experience and the potential for innovation is endless.