Creating new retail customer experiences
Retail must reposition its place in a customer’s life now that the pandemic has changed shopper expectations. Future success will depend on a retailer’s ability to adapt business models and create shopping experiences that engage and delight.
Retail has been in a state of evolution since the dawn of the internet: Current events only accelerated this change.

What do modern shoppers expect? What will delight them? Now is the time for retail brands to ambitiously reimagine their relationships with customers, and to set a high bar. This entails focusing the whole business on the delivery of exceptional experiences and rewiring the customer-facing functions of the organization – marketing, commerce, sales, and service. This allows organizations to become customer obsessed and reignite growth.

Here, we identify five retail industry reimagination opportunity areas and outline how brands can adapt their shopping experience to meet changing behaviors and expectations. These opportunity areas are relevant to all retail sectors – from grocery to clothing, electronics and furniture.
We're reimagining experiences in additional industries besides retail.​


1. Everywhere commerce

What happens when anywhere can be a checkout?
Online shopping is now the norm, so retail organizations must create new opportunities for transactions in new physical and digital places. With the right partners – and by harnessing appropriate emotions – any activity can generate a customer.

This is the business of everywhere commerce.

2. Let me entertain you

When customers return to stores, their heightened expectations will return, too.
With so many needs met online during the pandemic, what will bring people back to physical stores? The answer lies in reimagining real-world outlets into shape-shifting spaces for building brand loyalty and new shopping experiences that engage and delight.

This is the business of retail that wows.

3. The many re's in retail

Renting, Refilling, Reselling: Business is being reinvented.
Ownership is an old paradigm which successful retail brands are reimagining. Business models like renting, reselling and refilling offer potential to diversify physical and digital retail revenue and reimagine the shopping experience across the purchase journey.

This is the business of rethinking retail.

4. Put your money where your mouth purpose is

Walk the talk (or customers may walk away).
Being clear about your purpose isn’t enough. To stay relevant and build loyalty, retail brands need to demonstrate commitment to those values – especially when times are tough – and make purpose actionable and personal through meaningful experiences.

This is the business of walking the talk.

5. If you don’t know me by now

Personalization was 1.0.
2.0 makes moments meaningful.
Traditionally, organizations view data primarily as something that helps them – to target customers better, for example. Increasingly, they must prioritize the use of data to improve, enrich and personalize shoppers’ experiences. With the right experiences, monetization will follow.

This is the business of getting personal.

What do modern shoppers expect? What will delight them? Now is the time for retail brands to ambitiously reimagine their relationships with customers.

Retail was always wired to adapt

Big-box retailers, shopping malls and value-focused suburban superstores were once what defined shopping for a majority of people. Then the internet evolved how and where shopping occurred, leaving some legacy brands considering how to evolve, too.

As the COVID-19 pandemic gradually eases, people will crave real-world experiences, but their expectations and behaviors have adapted, which means the retail landscape will emerge in a very different shape.

Bland brick-and-mortar stores and experiences will go away, and we will see the influence of digital intelligence across all aspects of shopping, not only e-commerce. Digitally enabled convenience, value and flexibility will be table stakes.

Meanwhile, shoppers will put a premium on tailored, engaging and educational in-person shopping experiences, and their purchases will increasingly reflect their personal values and beliefs.

New age, new expectations

Sudden shifts since 2020

The retail industry has long been at the forefront of digital disruption and change, and the rise of shopping platforms has enabled convenience and value while also causing much disruption.

Although digital has powered this wave of change, we’ve observed significant increases since 2020.

  • Digital commerce has increased significantly across sectors1
  • Populations have acclimatized to online grocery shopping2
  • Curbside pickup became a priority when face-to-face transactions represented a health risk3
  • Fashion and apparel purchases shifted as work and socialization patterns changed4
  • Communities sought to support small local businesses as they suffered to keep their doors open5
Despite the shifts, shopping still happens

Consumers have spent less on travel and dining out during the pandemic. Yet shopping has remained buoyant overall6. In the US, for example, people spent over $100 billion more on goods during the last year than they did in the year before (improvements to the home, more money spent on food for cooking at home, and so on).

However, the disruption to all aspects of life and the multiple crises we’ve been facing as a society – health, economic, social, environmental – have also made people reflect on what truly matters and on their choices in life, including what, where and how they buy7. Now, new and increasingly digital shopping habits (combined with these new needs and expectations) set the scene for a radically altered post-pandemic shopping landscape.

What has made retailers resilient?

Many retailers have seen declining revenue and closed store fronts, while some have prospered and expanded. Organizations with robust digital capabilities and flexible operations have been less impacted than their less-prepared competitors.

Digitally mature retailers were able to increase digital efforts and reap rewards from years of investing in digital capabilities, partnerships and expertise. A flexible organization allowed them to quickly respond to the new climate and adapt inventory, delivery methods, supply chain solutions, community-centric approaches, and the focus and work of their employees.

Looking ahead, both digital capabilities and flexible operations will remain fundamental to success in the next phase of retail. They will inform new and engaging shopping models and experiences, which will be needed by retail organizations to meet customers’ evolving expectations and demands.

Digital omnipresence moves center stage

Where and how people shop will be driven by resilience

The benefits of an omnichannel retail approach have been widely discussed. Now, the need for digital omnipresence – an approach underpinned by digital’s ubiquity in both the real-world and online – will move center stage, creating new opportunities.

Digital discovery, commerce, and fulfilment will become atomized and distributed across the various places people spend their digital time. When people get inspired or remember something they need, brands need to be there available to buy – instantly.

Behemoths like Amazon and Alibaba will continue to make shopping more accessible, seamless, and price positive, but the enormous recent e-commerce uplift has pushed customer expectations even higher. From messaging apps to social networks and beyond, today shopping needs to be an integrated part of people’s digital lives.

Physical spaces will need to be redesigned as experience centers, built for entertainment, education and tailored service – all whilst integrating and benefiting the local communities they exist in. Shops will no longer be the final step of the sales funnel, but an integral part of the discovery and education experience.

We should think of stores as brand-building experience centers, not merely as places where goods and inventory conveniently collide with customer transactions.

Creating a climate for customer loyalty in retail

Core values should be unique to each retail organization, and your competitive advantage comes in what you choose. However, two can set up all retailers to thrive regardless of their customer base.

Transparency: Show Customers What You Are Doing

Customers can uncover more information about how your company works than ever before. In a fully transparent company, no chief officer ever worries about a leak to the media. By making your entire operations model transparent and easy to review, you not only show customers you have nothing to hide, but you also identify where you can improve your operations to create the best possible experiences and outcomes.

Authenticity: Do What You Say You Will Do

Company values and social responsibility campaigns are important but demonstrating that your company is regularly acting in alignment with those values is critical. Mishaps will occur, but how you respond can turn a media nightmare into a moment to show your commitment.

Our capabilities

Reimagining business through experience
We help reinvent the front office across products, marketing operations, sales and commerce, and customer service to unlock growth and drive new experiences that make lives easier, healthier, safer and rewarding.

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