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A new reason to get customers through the door

Shoppers may one day pay to enter your store. MYOB’s ‘Future of Business’ report predicts as technology creates more online-assisted automation, the kind of human interaction afforded by bricks-and-mortar retail stores will become more and more valuable.

The report’s author, MYOB chief technology officer Simon Raik-Allen, says the increasing influence of the internet is likely to be most evident in the retail sector. As the world’s consumption moves online, he says, retail is the “canary in the coalmine” which shows some of the most obvious and significant changes before other industries.

Retail has always been about community as much as trade, Raik-Allen says. He says the retailer of the future will leverage this by focusing on knowing their customers, understanding what they like and offering new suggestions for purchase based on trends and the customer’s digital profile. In order to meet these needs, retailers will become more highly-specialised.

“No longer just a retail assistant, these highly-trained service people will be tour guide, advisor, curator and subject matter expert, helping you make choices that suit your tastes and experience the latest novelties in a constantly changing world,” Raik-Allen says. “Having that human interaction will become a cherished experience – you may even pay to enter the store for this interaction, regardless of your purchase.”

These coveted retail stores will become more experiential as technology makes it even easier to order online, says Raik-Allen. The stores will emphasise the unique attributes or values of the brand, allowing customers to try the products and purchase them via mobile.

“As the impact of technology increases, retail will evolve to where stores don’t sell goods – they sell experiences. “

Some retail stores around the world have already pushed the experiential factor, like the Build-A-Bear factory in Disneyland. Following her visit on a family holiday this year, Hotfoot CEO Juanita Neville-Te Rito described it as selling stuffed animals and, crucially, “an entertaining and interactive experience during which a stuffed animal of the shopper’s choice is assembled and customised to be uniquely theirs.”

Researching to see whether there really are any retail stores charging admission, The Register ran across several inquiries about how much it costs to get into M&Ms World retail stores. They’re free, of course, but like Build-A-Bear, these blur the line between entertainment and commerce. The Las Vegas outlet offers a “personalised printer” machine which can stamp the candy with any of 16 colours or a range of icons.

MYOB’s report is available for download here.

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