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What Is the Future of Retail?

Retailers will soon move to a model by which they sell to customers whenever, wherever and however they want to buy.
By Mark Roberti

Sounds obvious, right? But so far, only a handful of conventional retailers are doing it.

The last thing I would do is leverage the one thing online retailers don't often offer: helpful sales associates. In the United States, at least, retailers have seen people as a cost to be minimized. I would pay workers more and train them to be helpful.

A few years ago, I went to Bloomingdale's to purchase a new jacket to wear at our RFID Journal LIVE! event. The gentleman in the men's department who helped me was older and clearly had worked in retail his whole life. He knew the inventory inside. I picked out a few jackets I liked, and he helped me choose the one that looked best on me. He helped me find a shirt and pants that worked well with the jacket, and I left the store feeling good. I knew I would not look like a bumpkin on stage that year. I went back the next year for a jacket and the year after.

Here's the thing a lot of companies are missing: People have questions. Often, you spend a lot of time online trying to determine whether a product is right for what you need it for. The is inconvenient and inefficient. If customers could go to a store knowing they would get answers to their question and come home with the right product, they would go to stores more. And when they go to stores, they often buy things they didn't expect to buy.

So in my mind, the way in which brick-and-mortar retailers compete is by using technology to match the convenience of online retailing, and by offering expertise that algorithms online can't offer. Let me know your thoughts about the future of retail.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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