Future Stores 2017: All change as retailers restructure stores for 2017 and beyond

Inside a retail store, almost everything is changing, and that evolution will continue at pace in the years ahead, reports a new industry study.

The study highlights how no stone is being left unturned as retailers adapt to new shopper demands and competition from pureplay online businesses. Whether it’s store design, the number of employees in a shop, merchandising, service and payments or the technology being used, retailers are completely rethinking their store strategies.

‘Forging the Stores of the Future’, a benchmarking report composed by WBR Digital and Retail Connections ahead of the Future Stores event in London on 31st May-1st June, finds that 64% of retailers are planning to increase their budget for in-store innovation over the next year.

When it comes to specific digital technologies, most retailers have already rolled out or are currently trialling digital checkouts/point of sale and tablets to assist store associate services. Augmented reality or virtual reality apps are the next big innovation in the pipeline, with around 50% of retailers admitting they are likely to roll out or trial this technology in the year ahead.

Many retailers have been adapting to a changing marketplace for some time, but others have been slow to react to new customer demands – partly because they have judged it to be an overly expensive exercise, or they have simply been left behind.

Reality bites

The cold hard reality appears to be dawning on them, however, with only 1% of survey respondents now of the belief that organisational restructure is completely unnecessary. This compares to one-third of respondents in last year’s report, showing how rapidly retailers are being forced to change their outlook.

Chris Field, Head of Innovation at Retail Connections, says: “What is very clear from this report is that retailers increasingly recognise that they do need to make changes, and that they need to make them quicker.

“As they make these investments, there will be a whole new set of challenges to ensure that the right technologies are chosen, that employees are trained in the right way, and that the store continues to function efficiently and profitably.”

Many of the talking points from the survey will come under the spotlight at Future Stores, where representatives from across the retail industry will meet to discuss the major challenges and opportunities of modern retailing.

Among the speakers and panellists will be: Paul Wills, Director Dealer Development at Hyundai Motor UK; Richard Hewitt, Head of Digital Stores at Marks and Spencer; Will Lockie, former Head of Multichannel at Evans Cycles; and Hannah Shepherd, Head of Retail Experience at Virgin Media.

Future Stores will take place at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel, London on 31st May-1st June, 2017.

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