Technology Will Champion ‘Store of the Future’ Innovations

November 19, 2020

Recently, Executive Creative Director Ryan Brazelton spoke with retail executives at X/SPECS – a virtual event reflecting the evolution of physical stores and the role that innovation plays in transforming the customer experience. During his talk, he shared ideas for the future of experiential retail and how to balance design elements, touchless innovations, and technology to drive experiences that will build trust and drive shoppers into the stores. Learn more about it from this Q&A with Chain Store Age.

Chain Store Age: What are the biggest opportunities that the pandemic played in the evolution of the physical store?

Ryan: It has fast-forwarded retailers five years to adopt more mobile and digital-friendly tools that empower the consumer to shop the way that work best for them – such as BOPIS and curbside pickup. It shined a light on who had not been moving and investing at the proper pace.

Chain Store Age: What does the phrase “Store of the Future” mean to you? And how will these physical spaces be different than the designs and immersive experiences offered pre-pandemic?

Ryan: We have to shift from prototype to platform mentality. It can’t be about set it and forget it – it has to be about creating experiences that are always evolving and imagining something new. Stop thinking about the box you build and start thinking about the stages you build.

Chain Store Age: What changes need to happen for retailers to create physical spaces that balance design elements, touchless innovations and technology that drive experiences and build trust among shoppers?

Ryan: Brick and mortar and digital commerce have to stop being created in siloed environments. They are two sides of the same coin. That siloed mentality of “different channels of the business” has to shift.

Chain Store Age: Would you say these changes are here to stay? Why?

Ryan: Absolutely. It’s all about the digital adoption curve – it doesn’t exist anymore to an extent. Everybody is engaged with technology and mobile and looking for new solutions. The department store and the grocery store of the last 50 years will not and cannot be the ones for the next 50. Contactless payment will no longer be a “nice to have” convenience. It will be the expectation. More importantly, will be thinking about using technology to deliver a higher-order brand experience that comes to life holistically, regardless of the channel or platform of engagement.

Chain Store Age: What’s the best advice you can give retailers just starting on their journey to operating in the new era of retail, or more specifically, defining their version of the stores of the future?

Ryan: Every day is a new future. And it means different to every single retailer depending on who they are, what makes them special, and their purpose. And if you really know thyself and understand who you are, that unlocks worlds of possibility that no one else could do. Retailers have to move away from the mindset “because our competitor did X, Y, Z, that’s what we have to do.” Everyone has been running the same plays, creating the same stores with different colors. Also, human-centric driven technology – that’s embedded intrinsically into the store – just like the physical store is embedded into the digital experiences.

This story appeared in Chain Store Age published on November 18, 2020.