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What will the retail outlets of the future look like?

With online shopping now accounting for a huge chunk of UK retail earnings many are asking how the high street will survive. The answer is by being more like the internet, with no queuing, more choice and value for money. But how does this translate into a physical shop?

1. Calm technology

This is the term we use to describe the technology, which is both discreet and functional, there when you need it and not when you don’t. At the moment, many stores try to incorporate tech for tech’s sake. But customers don’t shop online because they love tech; they do it because it’s easier and quicker.

Where we might see calm technology making waves is in fashion stores. Customers want to see and feel clothes before they consider trying them on. Having a sample on a screen and the option to select a size and have the physical product whizzed into your hands could be very attractive.

2. Smart phone sync

Many stores such as The Gap and H&M have been playing with in store media for some time; this can be video similar to that supplied by, but it can also be interactive media. Accessing media on smart phones leads shoppers to choose smart check-out options and can lead them towards more products.

3. Walk in, walk out

As we’ve been seeing at Amazon Go in the US, shoppers are more than ready to jump the check-out process altogether. Having an app installed on your phone, which will allow you to pick your products and leave, will probably motivate buying.

This is calm technology at its peak right now; however, the level of surveillance needed to make it work still leaves some customers cold.

4. Robots

Whilst we love the idea of robot staff making every shopping trip easier, we do worry about human jobs. But the use of robots in future stores will be a little different. Robots will be used to stock-take, deliver new stock and tidy up, freeing up human staff to add a more personal touch.

The pace of retail evolution is fast and difficult to predict. No sooner is the future mapped than it changes. But one thing is for sure; sounds and images will always play a big part in the physical shopping experience.