As we have noted many times in this blog, the Internet and mobile technologies are dramatically altering how nearly all business is done. While it is certainly debatable as to which industries have been affected the most, certainly retailing is at the top of the list. Whether this is because technology allows customers to choose from a virtually unlimited number of items or offers the convenience of rapid delivery or makes it easy for customers to gain information and compare products, online shopping is transforming retailing.
Yet, the benefits customers obtain by shopping online is just one of many changes retailers must face. For example, changes include such things has millennials moving from suburban to urban areas which impacts the location of physical stores. Also, there is greater emphasis on health and fitness, which is changing the types of products customers seek. And, of course, the increased sharing of information among fellow shoppers, such as through social media and rating sites, is making it necessary for retailers to communicate in more detail and with a greater sense of urgency.
A good example of how retailing is changing can be seen in this state of the grocery industry story from Fortune. It looks at key issues affecting a retail model that has been in existence for nearly 100 years. The story suggests remaining competitive requires grocery stores to innovate or face a very uncertain future. For instance, grocery stores need to not only address issues of location, food choice and customer communication, but they also will need to become more tech-savvy, such as offering automated ordering options, and create a more comfortable and attractive shopping environment, such as offering in-store bars and restaurants.
And in the future even more innovation will be needed, such as home delivery using driverless vehicles and robot-assisted stocking of shelves (see included YouTube video).