Undoubtedly, the retail experience, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, is changing not only in the United States but across the globe. However, the question of what will constitute the new normal for retail going forward is still up in the air. The Reimagining Customer Retail: The New Normal in Shopping and Spending Habits panel, which took place on the main stage at IFA Berlin 2023, tackled that question and more, diving into omnichannel commerce and the reemergence of brick-and-mortar.
The conversation was moderated by Michael McLaughlin, with panelists including CEO of Nationwide Marketing Group Tom Hickman, Co-founder and CEO of ShareGallery.com Lisa Lopuck, and Germany Director at CoolBlue Bart van der Vis.
The retail segment is unique in that it caters to a wide, inter-generational mix of consumers all with vastly different needs. And, as Gen Z and Millennials increasingly come of age and occupy greater purchasing power, understanding how to cater to their needs is becoming critical for the growth of the modern retail sector.
Tom Hickman dove into the topic by arguing that the needs of Gen Z aren’t quite as foreign as they are typically made to seem. In fact, there is significant common ground between Gen Z and their older counterparts that transcends generational gaps: “This generation was locked up for a very long time. And, while they’re fatigued from digital engagements over Zoom, they still consume a lot of content. But, when they interact and actually want to make a purchase, they want a connection just like we did and just like our parents did.”
However, having a well-developed physical retail space is no longer enough to win the hearts of consumers and compete in modern retail. The physical retail segment must be combined with a well-developed digital strategy. “We have digital natives that we are communicating with and dealing with. These are the influencers on TikTok and on Twitter, and they pride themselves on the following that they have,” said Lisa Lopuck, elaborating, “I think that there is a huge opportunity as a distribution channel because we can essentially empower these young influencers to become an ambassador army online that is out there, essentially talking about and selling your products.”
According to research from gfk cited during the panel, this omnichannel approach is one that 79 percent of retailers see as critical to getting the most out of both in-person and online shopping. “You have to meet them where they are. You have got to provide them with every solution they need in order to be successful,” elaborated Hickman.
The future of retail is far from set in stone, but two clear trends have emerged: Brick-and-Mortar is far from dead, and having a well-established online presence is critical.