AMSTERDAM – The future of retail looks bright, but only if it evolves to meet the rapidly changing needs of the consumer, says Robert Thiemann, director of Frame Publishers. This week, Thiemann and other innovative minds at the vanguard of the architecture, retail and automotive worlds came together for a symposium to forecast the challenges and possibilities facing urban stores of the future.
Hosted by BMW Group Nederland at its flagship store in Amsterdam, the symposium called Vision: Future Retail – explored how to rethink the consumer transaction in a world increasingly defined by our differences. ‘Recent global events have created a world where differences are becoming more and more intense,’ said Rem Koolhaas, founder of OMA, during his keynote speech.
For its centenary year, BMW Group is exploring ways to refresh the dealership retail experience. In order to shape and adapt to the changing needs and expectations of its customers, BMW is seeking to develop partnerships and invest in retail collaborations with organizations like OMA.
Pieter Kool, G-Star Raw’s creative director and head of 3D design, said during his speech that though the future of the urban store is uncertain, there’s opportunity in the ambiguity. ‘Part of our future challenge is that nobody has a clue how retail will look in five years, and five years from now, we won’t have a clue about the next five years.’
Thiemann names three cultural shifts that threaten the retail experience. The dominance of digital consumption, consumer attention shifting from products to experiences, and access to products and services replacing the concept of ownership are all challenges to the urban store. To overcome these challenges, Thiemann says that people need to cherish the feeling of getting lost in the retail experience.
‘Innovations today include the trend for retail to become mobile with pop-up stores, to become more social by inviting people to talk and do enjoyable things together while also offering a personal service and custom products,’ says Thiemann. These innovations emphasize and reinvigorate the retail experience with spontaneity. ‘In the future, retail will be independent of time and place. It will be inclusive instead of exclusive, it will be empathetic in catering to human needs and it will be even more personal.’