Lately I’ve been considering a few longer term trends that are taking shape that will definitely change the shape of retail.
Self Driving Cars – Seems like science fiction now, but self driving cars are really coming. Check out this infographic on how the technology is progressing. Volvo also provides a very detailed overview of current and upcoming technology including self driving. Take a completely different commute , add shopping apps and geolocation and retailers will need to capture customers differently tomorrow to be competitive. Add the increasing influence of electric cars that don’t require gas, and less service, and you understand that purveyors of fuel and convenience will have to adjust their model to suit the needs of tomorrow’s consumers.
Print Your Own Food – Supermarkets and restaurants can also look forward to technology impacts. This recent food printer concept probably provides another potential revenue stream for a grocery store – selling food filled ink cartridges perhaps – and could shape the offerings provided in restaurants. In the spirit jetpacks, how about robots brewing our espresso each morning?
Print Your Own Clothes – While the sales of music, movies and books are increasingly electronic, retailers of clothing have been impacted less, but smart retailers will stay on top of trends that could allow consumers to obtain clothing online with a file, instead of at a physical store or having physical items sent to them. A popup store in London recently allowed patrons to pick the designs for tshirts and print them directly on demand in the store. Printing on tshirts is pretty simple, but consider the trend towards knit footwear. Nike recently released a lightweight knit shoe that looks primed for some sort of 3d printer/ knitting machine . What if customers can just download styles and print them at home? While this is definitely not the same as music, movies, or books, it certainly provides some opportunity for some competitive advantages that savvy businesses could leverage. It could also make knock-offs of current fashions much quicker.