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Blog postsFebruary 28, 2019

16 Retail & Logistics Experts Weigh In on the Future of Commerce

In our latest collection, retail and supply chain leaders tell us what the future of retail has in store (and online).

Excited to release our latest installment, The Future of Commerce, where we have curated 16 articles from retail and supply chain executives and experts.

Last year, in The Future of Supply Chain, we explored transformative technologies in the supply chain and how modern logistics are fueling the retail industry. This year, we took a deeper look at the state of retail and how it’s evolving.

In The Future of Commerce, we hear from a wide range of retail and supply chain experts on customer experience, brand promises, delivery expectations, and how to master it all in the world of omnichannel retail.

Though each article is unique in its perspective, everyone agrees: Retail isn’t dead, but it has changed. Omnichannel retail is giving life to new retail experience—both online and in the store. Standing out and really reaching your customers requires an immense amount of data, flexible technology, an innovative mindset, and a little gumption.

Read on to find out how…

Introduction: Retailers, Give Your Customers What They Want

Brian Kilcourse, Managing Partner, Retail Systems Research

Retail is undergoing a massive transformation. Before eCommerce, retail headquarters could largely decide what they wanted to sell in their stores they chose what was advertised through one-directional campaigns (TV, magazine ads); they chose how and which products went on sale. Today, retail stores are under tremendous duress, because that one-directional model doesn’t fit anymore. Our demands, and the technology that’s gotten us here, have evolved... Read the full article >>

Chapter 1: Disrupting Retail

For hundreds of years, retail operated the same: Supply was centralized in physical marketplaces and malls and shoppers traveled to geographical hubs to shop for what they needed. eCommerce changed everything; it inverted the model. Now, demand is decentralized and shoppers can be anywhere, shopping at all times of the day. Read more >>

> The Age of Ordinary Retail Is Over

Bryce Phillips, Founder and CEO, evo

I started my business online in 2001. When we opened our first physical store—four years later—I had people looking at me a little bit strangely, asking why I would do that, given retail was "all going to the web." It was widely believed at that time that in the future, there would be no stores... Read the full article >>

> eCommerce Is Just Hitting Its Stride

Jesse Genet, Founder and CEO, Lumi

Technology has dramatically reshaped the shopping experience in recent years, but that’s nothing compared to what’s coming.

Much of the infrastructure that enables eCommerce has been in place for some time now—overnight shipping, flexible packaging, computers, mobile phones, and the consumer Internet (which is now in its third decade). What’s about to kick eCommerce into high gear is a cultural, demographic shift... Read the full article >>

> All Customers Finally Get a Seat at the Table

Patrick Herning, Co-Founder and CEO, 11 Honoré

In retail, giving your customers what they want has never been easier. We have incredible technology that lets shoppers connect with merchants directly, and maintain an ongoing dialogue. From this incredible technology, we have an abundance of data telling us who our customers are, and what they want to buy… Read the full article >>

> Bringing Back the Soul of Retail

Kristen Miller, CEO, Stylyze

eCommerce. It placed the world’s inventory at our fingertips. When it emerged, the first big behavioral shift was to price-shop everything and see if you could find it for less money—bringing immediate and lasting pressure to all retailers.

Now, most of that price pressure is more pronounced around commodity goods like light bulbs and electronics—there isn’t a lot of emotion behind buying a lightbulb. However, more specialized and higher-end retailers have discovered there’s still demand for personalized service across the customer journey. Despite the façade of anonymity or removal of human interaction with eCommerce, shoppers still value the human connection—retailing with soul… Read the full article >>

Chapter 2: Enabling Retail Transformation

Standing out amongst the competition isn't easy, especially with the world's goods at our fingertips. However, new retail and logistics technologies empower retailers to create seamless, personalized experiences for their shoppers. Read more >>

Data and Technology are Reinventing the Shopping Experience

Laura Behrens Wu, Founder and CEO, Shippo

Commerce today knows no physical borders or boundaries. As a result, the way we shop is changing in profound ways. Technology is making it possible for virtually anyone on the planet to buy goods directly from anyone else. It’s also enabling a wave of new retailers to grow and thrive by delivering better service to customers… Read the full article >>

Innovation is Merging Online and In-Store Retail

Janie Yu, Partner, Fung Capital

Some of the most exciting innovation happening in retail is the technology that integrates online and offline shopping—all in the name of improving customer experience and increasing sales. This trend—multichannel retail—is disruptive and many retailers have been slow to adapt. But consumers increasingly expect a seamless multichannel shopping experience, with convenient, personalized service. Companies that don’t embrace multichannel retail will become less relevant in the years ahead... Read the full article >>

Unified Commerce Makes You Invaluable to Your Customer

Perry Kramer, Senior Vice President and Practice Lead, Boston Retail Partners

It’s a fine line giving shoppers what they want. Consumer expectations for what it means to shop have changed. Today’s expectations include in-store and online, and demands continue to evolve. On one hand, many want to be left alone when they shop—free to discover products on their own; others expect a much more personalized experience—one in which their customer profiles are easily identified and catered to… Read the full article >>

Shoppers Expect Magic, Everywhere

Mike Koppel, Retired Chief Financial Officer, Nordstrom

Digital transformation has created major challenges and opportunities for traditional store chains. Consumer expectations continue to transform, and the speed with which change is required continues to accelerate. Retailers with strong customer service models that successfully integrate technology into their businesses will remain competitive. Those that don’t are in trouble... Read the full article >>

Chapter 3: Making Retail Experiences Memorable

eCommerce retail made the world's inventory available to everyone, giving more choices to shoppers than ever before. Across every channel—your stores, website, and social channels—the customer experience must be memorable (in a good way) to turn shoppers into brand advocates. Read more >>

It’s a Great Time to be a Customer

Phillip Akhzar, Co-Founder and CEO, Arka

Retail isn’t dead, but bad retail is. That’s good news for people who buy things. We are currently seeing major upgrades to the retail customer’s experience. What might have worked even five or ten years ago looks very stale compared to what works today... Read the full article >>

For Retailers, Great Services Makes the Brand

Richard Mader, Executive Director, Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS)

Stores aren’t going away, but the store of the future is going to be smaller. With more and more people shopping online, we don’t need all of the retail space that we used to. Stores don't need to hold as much inventory or provide as much room for shoppers to walk around. Soft goods—apparel and home furnishings—will make up a lot of the in-store inventory. Those are the things we need to touch and feel... Read the full article >>

More of What We Buy Is Coming to Us

Nick Huzar, Co-founder and CEO, OfferUp

eCommerce has made rapid inroads in the retailing industry, claiming nearly 10% of the market in a relatively short period of time. That number is sure to go higher in coming years.

That’s because online retail can offer convenience and immediacy that shoppers find very appealing. Many of us don’t want to go to the mall; we want our stuff to come to us, and we want it quickly because we value our time. By extension, we value the merchants that give us more of our time back... Read the full article >>

Chapter 4: Powering Retail into the Future

Supply chain. Logistics. Warehousing and fulfillment. The movement of goods. The supply chain industry is paramount to the success of all retailers. Read more >>

Let's Talk Reverse Logistics for a Better Environment

Stephen Beard, Director of Global Fulfillment and Logistics, Tile

We talk a lot about commerce and how the way we shop has changed. But as modern-day consumers decide among the myriad ways in which they can make a purchase, the quality of reverse logistics—convenience, cost, replacement options—plays an increasingly important role... Read the full article >>

The Sky Is the Limit: Drones Move Transportation Forward and Up

Ben Marcus, Co-Founder and Chairman, AirMap

Twenty years ago, if somebody suggested that a private company would fly humans to Mars, you’d probably say “you’re crazy.” Today, you’d be crazy to bet against SpaceX. And while twenty years ago self-driving cars seemed like an impossibility, today it’s clear that the technology exists to get rid of drivers altogether... Read the full article >>

The Future of Commerce Is at Your Door

Joseph Bobko, Vice President of Transportation, Boxed

As eCommerce pushes the center of retailing out of the big stores and malls where we used to shop, retail spaces have generally shrunk, and many have disappeared completely. With customers ordering goods for delivery from any place that has Wi-Fi, retailers must find ways to bring their goods closer to where their customers are—quickly and efficiently—because speed and choice are everything... Read the full article >>

Conclusion: Reinventing the Oldest Industry in the World

Karl Siebrecht, Co-founder & CEO, FLEXE

It’s clear that technology has transformed the way we shop, and even bigger, better changes are yet to come.

If you still enjoy going to the store, you’re not alone. People love to shop. But most of us don’t like fighting crowds or getting in the car to go pick up paper towels. Today, we can use the Internet to widen our product search and add a little convenience to our busy lives by avoiding the store when we don’t want to go... Read the full article >>

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