The New Retail: Why the Future of Shopping Will Be a Story of Bits and Bricks

In-store apps and “digitized” brick-and-mortar stores point to a future where online and offline shopping is highly integrated.

Key Takeaways


  • Retailers of all stripes are converging on a similar sales strategy, where inventory and customer data are shared between online and offline channels.
  • This “omnichannel” strategy helps retailers distribute inventory and advertise more efficiently—so they can sell more goods and have less excess stock to discount. It also benefits shoppers, who can buy items online and return them in a store, or buy in a store and return via mail.
  • The integration of online and offline shopping is also taking place within physical stores. Adopting an approach some observers have dubbed “New Retail,” some brick-and-mortar retailers are now offering mobile apps and digital displays to enhance the in-store shopping experience. Product videos, reviews, real-time item locators, and augmented reality tools allow customers to interact with products in the physical and virtual worlds simultaneously.
  • Implementing these changes is complex, costly, and takes time. Home Depot, Alibaba, Sephora, and other retailers that have embraced these strategies early should be able to maintain their leads over rivals that have yet to do so, at least in the short term.
  • Companies providing the needed back-end software solutions, such as SAP and, could see increased sales from retailers as these strategies become more widespread.



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