What will be the biggest challenge for retail in the next decade?

Care to share?

New generations entering the economy, changes in tech, shifting customer expectations, a volatile economy, and uncertain international relationships. The world we live in is full of changes that can be both opportunities and threats, depending on how well you can prepare your business for different scenarios.

We started our “5 experts about the future of retail in eCommerce” series with a post on how different retail will be in 2032. It also contains a short introduction if you’d like to know who’s who. Now, let’s see if the same experts from commercetools, Pimcore, Akeneo, Findologic, and Voucherify agree on the biggest challenges for the industry in the next decade.

“The first digitally native generation, Gen Z, already accounts for 40% of all consumers. This number will increase as the younger Gen Zers reach maturity, so retailers have to modernize the mindset of leadership. Instead of a “wait-and-see” attitude, they need to embrace a "test-and-fail-fast” approach. Exploring new techniques and touchpoints, like smart mirrors, artificial and virtual reality, predictive stocking, replenishment robotics, and seamless checkout as well as experimenting with data and personalization to build in-store loyalty, will help retailers identify what resonates with their customers. But first, they have to be willing to make the investments and take the risks.”

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

“One of the most significant challenges for retail is offering an immersive shopping experience. When it comes to customer experience, retailers will also face the challenge of addressing each customer with the right approach. That implies retailers with deeper customer insight will gain a more significant advantage in this highly competitive market. The location where consumers express their opinion is already transferring into the virtual world. Retailers must be early movers with the appropriate technology to meet the latest consumer needs.”

Dietmar Rietsch, CEO at Pimcore

“Retailers are facing an uphill battle in the coming decade as eCommerce continues its meteoric rise. To be successful, retailers will have to find ways to offer a unique shopping experience that sets them apart from online competitors. This means focusing on customer convenience and satisfaction by utilizing new technologies in mobile commerce, augmented reality, and customer loyalty solutions. The biggest roadblock in digitization is legacy technology. Obsolete systems will continue to stand between retailers and progress, so they'll have to summon some courage while also investing time, money, and resources if they want to succeed with their digital transformation. Another big challenge is handling multiple channels in the omnichannel model. Nowadays, multichannel sales are the norm, and all aspects related to it should be unified and available regardless of the purchase route the customer chooses. The problem here is scattered data, a problem with the interface for communication with the client, and fraud.”

Tomasz Pindel, Co-founder, CEO at Voucherify

“The biggest challenge for retailers will be to build a fully connected experience from a highly sustainable and eco-conscious supply chain to shopping experience to loyalty schemes. All of these are geared towards retention rather than acquisition. Perhaps the biggest challenge is shifting some mindsets a little. With the increasing influence and expectations of Gen Z, for example, in how they shop and on which devices, and the expectation of tailored experiences, it will be the merchants who can be agile and adapt to those changing behaviours that I expect to thrive.”

Brian Graydon, Partner & Alliances Director at Findologic

“The biggest challenge for retailers is to be prepared for any upcoming circumstances, foreseen or unforeseen. If we look back to the past when we were first confronted with COVID or the war in Ukraine, these crises showed us that you need to have a highly flexible and adaptable technical infrastructure. This is needed in order to be able to quickly optimize processes to meet customer expectations. That means, for example, that companies need to activate their products on exactly those channels where customers spend time in order to provide them with an exceptional product experience.”

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

What’s next?

In the next post, we’ll explore what the retailers are missing now that will impact the industry's future. If you want to stay connected, sign up for our newsletter. 

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Published January 17, 2023