Mission-focused fixtures, convenient meal options and the removal of checkouts are some of the ideas retailers should consider if their physical stores are to remain relevant for shoppers in an increasingly digital age, according to a new report.

The advice is included in a new free-to-download report, The Evolution of the Physical Store, from the IGD and The Consumer Goods Forum, which also examines the forces at work in shaping stores’ evolution.

The key findings for retailers to consider include:

  • · Distinctions between formats will become less relevant and retailers and suppliers will engage with shoppers more individually, so understand shoppers and their missions
  • · Enhanced use of data and analytics to make more informed decisions around ranges, and personalisation
  • · Robotics and technology will facilitate more focus on space that can be freed up to drive footfall, with more emphasis on fresh food, mission-focused fixtures and convenient meal options
  • · Technology will free-up staff to concentrate on value-added services to bring brands to life
  • · Offer what e-commerce cannot
  • · Understand where there is friction in shoppers’ journeys around stores – possibly removing checkouts altogether, freeing space for new features and fixtures and giving staff more opportunity to help shoppers
  • · Build and support brands – brand integrity will continue to be crucial
  • · Collaborate more across the supply chain and better understand demand planning and the ability to react quickly
  • · Find new ways of measuring success
  • · Invest and plan long term and ensure everyone buys into this.

John Wright, EMEA region manager at the IGD, who wrote the report, said: “Already we are seeing stores experiment in many ways to enhance the experience for shoppers, concentrating on visual appeal, product freshness, provenance and health – but there’s more to be done. “

A key challenge would be in “picking through the noise” of what shoppers say they want and focusing initially on those elements that they are ready to adopt.

Joanne Denney-Finch, IGD chief executive, said the IGD believed bricks-and-mortar stores would always have a place in grocery retailing and they would “always be best placed to deliver instant gratification, impulse purchases and customer service.”

“So, we expect the store of the future to merge the physical and digital worlds, to create a much more absorbing experience featuring fresh food, new products, unique events and more ways to taste, learn and discover.”

To read more of the report, go to https://www.igd.com/research/retail/cgf-evolution-of-the-physical-store