Letter from America: New retail's not all about technology, but it helps

I recently read an article in ChainStore Age about the future of retail that did not contain the words 'omnichannel', 'mobile' or 'analytics'. I was shocked, but then thought in 1990 who believed selling bottled water would be a profitable business.

The article, written by Marianne Wilson, was based on a Westfield survey of 13,000 consumers in the UK and US and highlighted five trends that she states will create a new era in retail.

So opening my mind to think outside the box I decided to use my 40+ years of retail experience to evaluate the piece and provide insight in relation to touring the exhibits at this year's RBTE, which takes place 9-10 March at London Olympia.

Even if you expand to rental clothing, consignment stores exist today. Maybe I am missing something but I don’t see this as a future trend.

Just this week I read that Home Depot now offers customers is an augmented reality feature that allows them to use their mobile to visualise how items might look in their home. Perhaps you can find such an app down one of the numerous RBTE technology aisles.

The question is do iPads and YouTube videos eliminate the need for in-store classes or enhance them? Perhaps this presents a great opportunity to educate consumers not just on the subject topic but on better use of their personal devices pointing of course to the retailers' mobile apps.

You might need to wander into the Retail Design Expo, which neighbours RBTE for the second successive year, to find such solutions.

Also we should consider a report from UXC Eclipse that states 64% of consumers consider sustainability when deciding between brands. A new loyalty application is clearly required that links with social networks to gather the data to support this consumer request. Does one exist?

It will be interesting to tour the exhibits at next week's RBTE in search of the above and other potential future retail services, supported by technology. I will also look for solutions to the hot topics currently facing US retailers, which are:

I wish successful RBTE shopping to all visitors to the show, which runs from 9-10 March at London Olympia.

Click here to register for your free RBTE ticket