A.C. Nielsen looks at future retailing

The Wise Marketer has a piece reporting from a recent conference involving the consumer packaged goods business. Nielsen's Consumer Insights' senior vice president Todd Hale provided his forecast on the changing retail landscape in the next four years.

  • RFID (radio frequency identification) technology (see Using RFID for the latest details) will be widely applied to track in-store shopping patterns, stock merchandise, and measure consumption.
  • In line with his first prediction, Hale also concluded that self-checkout facilities will be greatly simplified as these RF-based devices become common on supermarket shelves, effectively replacing bar codes with radio identifiers.
  • Wal-Mart sales will reach the half-trillion dollar mark as the store becomes a leading source for immediate healthcare.
  • More stores will begin to offer valet parking.
  • Metal detectors will greet shoppers at store entrances.
  • Private Label goods will reach a 20% share of consumer spending.
  • Grocers will either go into "big", "value", "niche" – or financial trouble.
  • High fuel and heating costs will continue to reduce shoppers' disposable income, causing channel evolution.

Hale said people are so busy and stressed these days that shopping is a necessary evil, and smart retailers need to keep consumers happy "by selling them unique products, getting them in and out of stores more quickly, smothering them with good service, and saving them money."

To do that, he said, retailers need to focus on personalization, value and convenience.

Hale didn't reference digital signage directly, but it certainly plays a role in all of the areas he noted. Personalization by tailoring the content to the time of day and week, and therefore the shopper profile. Value through not only accurately reinforcing offers, but also providing relevant complementary content. And convenience through way-finding and  interactivity, giving consumers shelf-edge screens that allow them to find out about products without hunting for sales associates.

The most interesting note is in Hale's conclusion, which is all about improving the consumer experience. "Many consumers are not only brand-loyal but also store-loyal. If they feel a store goes out of its way to make their shopping experience more pleasant and less stressful, they show their appreciation with more frequent shopping trips and bigger sales totals."

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