UNITING THE PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL WORLDS
E-commerce has undeniably brought convenience to the shopping experience, but it has been lacking the sensory richness of physical stores. By combining the strengths of both worlds, Tomas Bendz, CEO of Around the Corner, believes retailers can create a shopping experience that transcends traditional boundaries.
– Today, we work a lot with the expression, content, and atmosphere of the physical store. However, when we enter an e-commerce site, we face a very flat world, where we just scroll. If we can transfer the essence of the physical store into the digital world and combine it with a social layer to provide personalised service, advice, and someone to talk to in a natural and interactive way, new market opportunities will arise. Likewise, by infusing cutting-edge technologies into physical stores, such as augmented reality and interactive displays, the overall shopping experience will be enhanced.
So far, virtual worlds have primarily aimed to replicate the physical environment, but Tomas Bendz envisions a future where virtual reality actually can offer experiences that go beyond what is possible in the physical realm.
– The focus will move from merely mirroring the physical world to crafting unique and exclusive encounters that are only achievable within the boundless possibilities of virtual reality. As a result, the purpose of physical stores will require re-evaluation. It will become crucial to identify the unique value that physical spaces bring to the retail landscape.
Considering the future of physical stores, it is clear that their role is undergoing significant re-assessment. While they will continue to hold importance, a substantial portion of sales is predicted to migrate to the immersive realms of 3D and online worlds. This transition signifies the need for retailers to adapt their strategies and leverage technology to create compelling experiences that engage and captivate customers.
But it doesn’t stop here.
– By 2035, consumers will possess a significantly different understanding of the consequences of their ecological footprint. The impact of our shopping habits, such as the products we buy, the resources we consume, and the waste we generate, will be subject to increased scrutiny and inspire behaviour change.
As consumers will prioritise products with minimal carbon footprints, recyclable packaging, and ethical sourcing, retailers will need to adopt sustainable strategies throughout their operations, from supply chain management to product development and waste reduction.
– Sustainable choices will become the norm, and companies that fail to adapt and address environmental concerns may face reputational and financial consequences, concludes Tomas Bendz.
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