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‘Get set for Social Retail in 2024’

By Retail4Growth Bureau | January 12, 2024

Sanjay Agarwal, Co-Founder - FRDC, Bangalore India, feels that 2024 will see retail reflecting some of the changes in consumer needs and behaviour, like their increasing need for physical social spaces, and that store designers will have to accordingly craft experiences that resonate with these changes. 

Sanjay Agarwal

2020-22 saw consumers getting accustomed to virtual realities when the physical world suddenly became inaccessible. The latter part of 2022-23 saw them returning to physical/social spaces with the increased need to travel, meet, discover, explore and socialise as groups – reconnecting with the real world.

While we expect to see an increased number of new F&B concepts/ services in 2024, consumers will also have a refreshed desire to socialise more than ever. So the socialising factor of F&B will also rub on pure retail in brick-n-mortar form. Hence one can expect ‘Social Retail’ as an emerging phenomena, which will counter E-com and digital retail /social media.

When it comes to some of these new retail trends, one can see a parallel in the hospitality industry. For example, many famous restaurants build buzz around their signature dishes on social media. With customers further sharing their experiences on social media, these places gain a lot of popularity. One can see this in retailing too. Many formats/categories of retail are or trying to create uniqueness through their products or services. Uniqlo for example started their ‘UTme’ concept counter where customers can create or custom-make their own T shirts or use custom stickers. 

Another change happening in physical retail is the true integration of store into the online space where customers can choose a particular store location to order and get their things delivered from the same store. This means retailers have to modify their store plans accordingly. Thus, retail stores are also transforming into fulfilment centres.

In 2024, there is also likely to be a rebirth and reconfiguration of existing brands and the opportunity to emerge as a new or transformed kid on the block’ targeting ‘Gen Z’. This will mean retailers embracing technology very very smartly, in a manner that it doesn’t intimidate older generations, while at the same time being enticing for Gen Z.

People have also started decreasing their screen consumption time, focusing on IRL (In Real Life) and not URL. Real Intelligence (RI) is also more important than Artificial Intelligence (AI). Retailers have opportunity to embrace this change and engage people on their shop floor. Hence the role of consumer facing technology (how much and what) is likely to see evolution in the coming years. Store designers thus have a task in hand to understand this ‘transformative’ change and accordingly address it while planning stores and designing experiences. 

Finally, retail store will always be a ‘retail store’ where people will come to shop, enjoy, socialise, destress, and fulfil their wants and desires.  Need based retail stores/category will increasingly undergo shift on online/e-commerce/quick commerce platforms. So store planners and brand/retailers will always have, and increasingly so now, an ever evolving challenge to identify their offerings from the POV of ‘needs’ ‘wants’ and ‘desires’, and look at how they can alter the ‘motivation’ levels of customers while they browse the stores.

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