The seminar held at EAE’s Joaquín Costa Campus within the framework of the Business Networking Series welcomed the participation of Juan Carlos Alcaide, a consultant, conference speaker and lecturer at ESIC, who gave the attendees an overview of what the store of the future will be like, based on the implementation of new technologies.
A consultant specializing in the customer experience, Juan Carlos Alcaide began his presentation with a historical introduction that started back in 1916, when Clarence Saunders opened the Piggly Wiggly supermarkets and put labels with the price on products marked individually. From the United States to Spain, the department store concept arrived in the form of the legendary Galerías Preciados, Almacenes Sepu and El Corte Inglés.
“Consumers have changed. Nowadays, consumers are omnichannel, democratic, individualistic (although they like to share their experiences, especially when they are negative). Particularly in the Mediterranean area, we are people who go for a stroll and go shopping” explained Alcaide, who dates the true shopping revolution back to the 1980s, with self-service emerging across the country in stores like DIA and the chain Pryca.
With all these changes the true revolution in retail in the 21st Century is coming in the form of data-based stores. “In the store of the future, big data is right at the heart”, he explained, using the example of Amazon and its Amazon Go service, currently launched only for employees. “Amazon has demonstrated that we live in an all-line world. Amazon Go is Bezos’s development laboratory for understand customers’ shopping behaviour much better in an establishment without any employees, just sensors and data-based management”.
In Juan Carlos Alcaide’s opinion, “we are in the midst of a complete and absolute change in which online and offline blur and cross over”. The central idea is the existence of the customer’s data, which Alcaide defines as the regular customer detection system through their mobile phone. “It is possible that, when you cross the threshold of the store of the future, through your mobile phone, somebody will realise that you are in the store and will send the last employee who served you on other occasions over to help you”.
The customer pattern is also changing. In the store of the future, even in non-retail companies, such as banks, the employees will have a tablet/smartphone with personalized customer information with structured CRM data combined with unstructured and open information from the Internet (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.). Thanks to this data, these stores will offer personalized products because they know the consumer through data based on their shopping pattern and customer profile.
New facial recognition technologies will be integrated in the store of the future. In fact, as Alcaide explained at the Madrid Campus of EAE, the Asian giant Alibaba Group in working precisely in this respect. Moreover, in his attempt to give the most futuristic description of retails, Juan Carlos Alcaide added that “the future of stores does not always involve the store itself, but rather it lies in distribution logistics, fast delivery like Amazon does, with more than 2,700 patents related to fast delivery”. He went on to highlight the use of zeppelins and drones complemented with distribution logistics. In terms of delivery and shipping, Alcaide used Zara as an example because Inditex uses data management for products in the physical store in augmented reality changing rooms, which are “a feature that we will see in the near future”.
“In the store of the future, you don’t always buy, you enjoy” explained Alcaide, who went even further to define the establishment as something experiential. Amazon has bought Whole Foods in order to sensorize and learn consumer behaviour with the aim of “understanding the balance between the physical and digital world”. In the opinion of the expert in consumption habits, “the future of stores will de characterized by sensorization and the perfect understanding of consumer behaviour”.
“Technology is a complement of the shopping experience” at a point of sale that will give customers honest guidance. In reality, what we are striving to achieve is that we don’t leave the store in order to facilitate impulse purchasing, because “the customer doesn’t go to the store, but rather the store goes to the customer”. This is thanks to what the expert refers to as the Internet of Homes (instead of the Internet of Things) in a relationship based on ordering the products needed and consumed in households on a regular basis.
The days are numbered for cash registered as far as Alcaide is concerned, who sees Apple as a great example of the store of the future. A new space in which concepts such as neuromarketing, sensory marketing and visual merchandising are integrated, all for the customers’ benefit so that they can enjoy themselves and have fun using technology. This commitment to introducing technology is very profitable for business in the long run.
The physical and digital worlds combine in the store of the future, with the presence of aspects such as artificial intelligence, sensory shopping and the option of speaking to a virtual assistant who makes the shopping experience easier. This is how the expert in customer experience concluded his presentation on the store of the future at the Madrid Campus of EAE Business School.