It’s a bloodbath out there in retailing, and for many a slow and steady death is on the horizon, contends Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru in a new study on the future of shopping.
Using labor statistics and census data dating back 40 years, Mulpuru proves that retailers have wasted time and money concerning themselves with the changing behaviors of young consumers — which distracts them from possibilities for improved sales. The history of technology innovation suggests that changes affect all age cohorts, and added to that, older shoppers have more money to spend, while the younger cohort has only shrunk in spending power and size over the past four decades.
In the research, Mulpuru outlines the future retail world, where hyped distractions like location technologies, digital wallets, and same-day delivery services are just that — hype. She focuses on real near-term opportunities like mobile tools, marketplaces, and dynamic pricing that will help retailers address cost savings and get shoppers to buy more and on longer-term innovations that promise to transform retail, such as remote customer service, 3D printing, and biometrics.
She contends that only six retail sectors have a chance to thrive and survive in this future state: the Web, restaurants, education, healthcare, manufacturers, and luxury. The rest will struggle, and without a fundamental structural improvement in their economics compared with competitors, they will ultimately shutter.