People like shopping in stores. By most accounts, the vast majority of all retail sales will still be done in physical stores in the year 2025. But, retail will most likely function differently than it has in the past. In some ways, brick and mortar will be like an extension of online, and vice versa—digital will be key to both online and in-store experiences. Retailers like Walmart are already making online ordering available in-store to shoppers, frictionless checkout is gaining steam and augmented reality is already starting to change the way people shop for large household items.
What all this means is that retail is moving fast, and stores of tomorrow will need to be agile and armed with data that will allow them to make quick decisions at the shelf. Technology is going to be central to creating that ever-changing, organic strategy for retail merchandising.
The case for “iterative efficiency”
Yet in order for this to be a seamless, efficient process, retailers and manufacturers need to start making changes now that will allow them to remain relevant in the next decade. Virtual technology is one way brands and retailers are innovating the collaborative process when it comes to creating, testing and implementing new in-store concepts.
By leveraging virtual simulations in place of traditional methods, teams can reach iterative efficiency, which is essentially being able to move relatively as fast as the digital retail space. Think about it: online retail can make changes instantly, getting them in from of the ever-changing consumer. For physical stores, it’s a much more involved process—getting all teams on the same page often entails a lot of back and forth and frustration, and evaluating merchandising concepts can be lengthy, and costly.
But, VR tools like our enterprise platform, ShopperMX™, can bring everything together, allowing teams to make better retail decisions, faster. Within a virtual environment, teams can create new concepts and then A/B test them with real shoppers, over the web, to learn which stand out—all within days. Because the investment is less, and design to decision is faster, physical retail now has the ability to be constantly evaluating and making changes that will resonate with shoppers.