Skip to main content
Close contact information
Get in touch

Josef Hargrave

Global foresight manager

Phone icon +44 (0) 20 7636 1531
Close contact information

Future of Retail

Future of Retail

Josef Hargrave
Global Foresight Manager
foresight@arup.com
+44 (0) 20 7636 1531

Shifting customer preferences, new technologies and sustainability pressures are shaping the future of retail

The retail sector is fast-moving and continues to experience significant change as shifting customer preferences, new technologies and sustainability pressures impact the environment in which retail operates. As consumers use a wider range of channels to make purchases, the sector is also becoming increasingly complex.

Despite rising levels of e-commerce, the physical store remains an important part of the offer, although its form and function will see ongoing changes. Retailers will need an overarching strategy that reflects the fast-blurring boundaries between online and offline shopping.

This report considers a range of trends impacting the retail sector, including shifting demographics, new customer needs and desires, emerging technologies, the changing role of the store and shopping mall, and a focus on transparency and sustainability.

By 2020, the entire concept of convenience and value will shift. Convenience won’t be defined in the traditional terms of time and ease. The highest currency will be relevance.

Christian Davies
Executive Creative Director, Americas at FITCH

The rise of online shopping does not mean that the physical store is obsolete. Instead, the store is evolving to fulfil different needs by providing unique experiences and better-quality customer service. Improved data analytics and greater access to more data will enable retailers to generate a much more complete picture of the customer, taking into account income and demographic fragmentation as well as individual preferences, decision-making patterns and behaviours. This will continue to improve the quality of a retailer’s engagement with customers and encourage long-term loyalty.

We know that about 60% of our customers buy both online and in shops, so the approach is to make it absolutely seamless for them to move from one to the other – the art of sales is consistent across channels.

Andy Street
CEO, John Lewis

By exploring these trends and a selection of global case studies, we aim to help retailers, developers and designers better understand the forces shaping the retail environment of the future.