A common way of still being able to obtain a clear picture of (uncertain) future developments is to draft scenarios. A very common form of this is to take a development for which its direction is uncertain, for example, how people will deal with their possessions in the future. Two extremes are then formulated, for example, ‘buying will continue as usual’ or ‘there will be an economy based on bartering and sharing’. When done for two developments they can be intersected in a coordinate system, which produces four possibilities that can be further defined. Here we describe two of these types of scenarios for the retail sector: one focuses on retail in general, and one focuses on fashion shopping patterns facilitated by technology.
The ‘Business Models of the Future’ report (Shopping2020, 2014a) states two uncertainties:
Four scenarios emerge when we intersect these two uncertainties (Figure 1). A thriving collaborative economy is about consumers having access to services and products that they wish to use, which they do not necessarily have to own, but which they can hire and use on a temporary basis. This can be for reasons of convenience or because of sustainability considerations. In the price-conscious collaborative economy the power of the collective is used to negotiate good deals through collective purchasing and agreements relating to, for example, power and insurances. Products, such as cars, are also shared because it is less expensive to do it that way. Objects are also shared between people because that makes good economic sense (see https://peerby.com). In the price-conscious self-society, the main aim for the individual consumer is to find the best deal, and it makes no difference whether it is a different supplier or a different brand each time. Online marketplaces are consulted in order to find that best deal (see http://www.beslist.nl). The lowest price is what counts, much more than convenience and sustainability. In the thriving self-society the individual consumer is looking for convenience, luxury and experience, for which he or she is willing to pay. Online marketplaces are used to find unique products and services. This type of consumer is happy to be advised and often takes out a subscription in order to be able to continue to enjoy the experience (see http://www.winecast.com).
Hofste & Teeuw (2012) also present four scenarios; however, these are more closely tailored to the consumer and how he or she shops. As a consequence, these scenarios are less abstract compared to the scenarios discussed above. This is a direct consequence of the uncertainties that were chosen:
Four possible scenarios are also generated on the basis of these two axes (Figure 1). In the first scenario of ‘Augmented Shopping experience’, the consumer’s experience is central. The store makes optimum use of virtual techniques in order to show how the personally selected clothing suits you. Interactive full-length mirrors, 3D models and virtual catwalks intensify the experience. In the ‘Personal shop experience’ scenario the consumer buys as they currently do, but the store is enriched with extra experience moments through smell, sound and visual stimulants matched to personal wants. For ‘Virtual shopping’, technology is used to allow the consumer to make a selection from a large offering by facilitating a virtual fitting room and the ability to show the choice immediately to friends via a Tweet mirror. In the last scenario, that of the ‘Social shopper’, social media play an important role in the buying process, both online and offline. Review sites and the opinions of family and friends are consulted in order to decide what to buy. Brands and shops monitor this and try to influence it and to learn from their customers by analysing thoughts and statements.
Figure 1: Future shopping scenarios
Previous blog in this serie: Shopping in 2020.
Next blog in this serie: Online in past, present and future
Hofste, M. & W. Teeuw (Red.). 2012. Winkel van de toekomst, toekomst van de winkel? Enschede: Saxion, Kenniscentrum Design en Technologie.
Shopping2020. 2014a. De business modellen van de toekomst. Download van www.shopping2020.nl