How different will retail be in 2032?

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Aleksander Olszewski

Content Manager

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It’s easy to get caught up in a daily struggle to find the next big thing in eCommerce. We usually look at it from a short perspective of the next two to three years. Today, we’re changing that for a moment. Join us in a refreshing exercise to picture the industry's future in the next 10 years. Let’s imagine the year 2032 together. 

This is the first blog post in our “5 experts about the future of retail in eCommerce” series. We’ve invited eCommerce experts from commercetools, Pimcore, Akeneo, Findologic, and Voucherify. Those companies are leading the change in modern eCommerce software. They’re a perfect team to help us discover the possible future of retail. 

If you want to see what else is coming up next, sign up for our newsletter. We’ll explore the biggest challenges in retail, what retailers are missing now, and what to invest in to stay ahead of the curve.

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Our experts

anthonymeir Anthony Meir, Global Go-to-Market Strategist at commercetools: Based out of the London office, Anthony’s role encompasses thought leadership on composable commerce, innovation in retail, and the importance of Gen Z as a consumer demographic.  
Dietmar-Rietsch Dietmar Rietsch, CEO at Pimcore: As CEO and Co-founder of Pimcore, Dietmar deals with new technologies and the digital transformation of companies daily. Dietmar is a passionate entrepreneur who has been designing and realizing exciting digital projects for more than 20 years. Find out more about him at linkedin.com/in/Rietsch.
tomaszpindel Tomasz Pindel, Co-founder and CEO at Voucherify: Tomasz is experienced in iterative software development, creative work culture, continuous learning, and a pragmatic approach. He’s an advocate for MACH, the ecosystem of technologies that stands for microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native SaaS, and headless. He strives for simplicity.
BrianGraydon Brian Graydon, Partner and Alliances Director at Findologic: Based in the UK, Brian comes with over 10 years experience in providing SaaS and IT solutions. He also brings knowledge from multiple sectors, including logistics, AI, martech, fintech, and eCommerce. Brian joined Findologic in October 2021 to drive growth and develop a growing partner ecosystem that includes the likes of Shopware, Shopify, and Klaviyo, as well as a network of eCommerce and digital agencies.
Stephan Bütterhoff Stephan Bütterhoff, Channel Director in Central & Eastern Europe at Akeneo: Stephan joined Akeneo in 2018 and is now responsible for further strategic expansion and partner satisfaction as Channel Director for Central & Eastern Europe. With more than 10 years of experience in digital commerce, Stephan was able to acquire extensive know-how that he uses together with his team in a practical and targeted way to inspire exciting companies such as Carhartt, Depot, Shop Apotheke, and many more from the Akeneo Product Cloud.

How different will retail be in 2032?

“1. Retailers will be delivering amazing brand experiences for customers. A seamless connection of physical stores to their digital counterparts will ensure customers have a consistent brand journey across all channels. The focus on sales will become secondary to entertainment via celebrity appearances, influencer tours, interactive activities, and other types of "‘retailtainment." 

“2. In-store apps will be standard, making in-person shopping easier and more rewarding. Customers will be able to access product location information, check inventory, checkout, and use smart mirrors and artificial and virtual reality (AR/VR) to aid in purchasing decisions. They’ll receive personalized data-driven product recommendations, discounts, and other bespoke content to inspire and incentivize purchasing. 

“3. Society will be cashless: no checkout counters, POS systems, or cashiers. Retailers will leverage the floor space to enhance the store experience and allow employees to focus on customer service.”

Anthony Meir, Global Go-to-Market Strategist at commercetools

“Considering that a third of the world’s population will be Generation Z by 2030, a tremendous consumer behavior shift will occur. Extended item information will influence future buying decisions. That means additional information about the production location or the carbon footprint is gaining more importance from an ethical sales perspective. 

“Consumption is no longer about fulfilling basic needs. Instead, it has become a lifestyle. As a result, retailers will have to create highly personalized customer experiences by using proprietary data to individualize the way of approaching millions of consumers. 

“Global eCommerce is significantly gaining more market share in the retail industry each year. In eCommerce-leading China, half of all retail sales are already made online. The prediction until 2025 reaches 83.9% (source: Adchina), whereas the western economy will soon be eager to catch up.”

Dietmar Rietsch, CEO at Pimcore

“We're unlikely to enter a sci-fi world of automation and AI anytime soon, but change is slowly happening. Retailers will have to recognize the increasing importance of first-party data and customer loyalty strategies if they are to have any chance of being successful in the upcoming decade. At Voucherify, we've seen an uptick in virtual wallets and reward programs. It's clear those are going to be critical for success. Augmented reality might come into play as well, so there are definitely some exciting things ahead.”

Tomasz Pindel, Co-founder and CEO at Voucherify

“The future of retail is hard to call. Many merchants have evolved more in just the last two years than ever before. Technology has had a huge impact on eCommerce in particular. Shoppable social, like TikTok and Instagram, will continue to develop and drive the success of certain products, and I think we’re only at the beginning of what the Metaverse will bring, but it’s only going to increase its influence. However, while channels and technologies might change, the priority for many will be to continue delivering personalized shopping experiences that keeps customers coming back and making every touch point relevant.”

Brian Graydon, Partner and Alliances Director at Findologic

“More than ever before, the omnichannel experience plays a huge role in the customer journey as the variety of touchpoints will increase in the future. There will be dozens of offline and online channels where a customer can discover you and your products, and the most important aspect will be a consistent and compelling product experience across all touchpoints. A single bad experience such as missing or even incorrect information throughout the product discovery process could keep you from buying the product. Ultimately, consumers decide at which touchpoints they want to discover the product they want, and retailers must meet their expectations.”

Stephan Bütterhoff, Channel Director in Central & Eastern Europe at Akeneo

What’s coming next in retail?

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Published January 5, 2023