ChangeUp: Technology will champion ‘store of the future’ innovations

Deena Amato-McCoy
SPECS Program Director
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Digital innovations will play a significant role in creating new, safer physical spaces. 

That’s according to design firm ChangeUp’s executive creative director Ryan Brazelton, who talked with Chain Store Age about how innovation can help retailers stay relevant in an ever-changing landscape. (Brazelton will highlight how technology is influencing future store designs at Chain Store Age’s X/SPECS conference in a session on Nov. 18, at 2:45 p.m. (EST). Click here to register.)

Industry-wide, companies are rethinking how they can safely deliver in-store experiences in today’s new normal. For many, this will include adopting technology that streamlines how consumers shop, pay for and procure merchandise, according to Brazelton.

Chain Store Age spoke with Brazelton about the store of the future will evolve in the changing landscape.

How has the pandemic helped in the evolution of the physical store?
It has fast-forwarded retailers five years. It also influenced them to adopt more mobile and digital-friendly tools and solutions — such as buy online and pickup in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup — that empower the consumer to shop the way that works best for them. It shined a light on who had not been moving and investing at the proper pace. 

What role will technology play in new store experiences?
Brick-and-mortar and digital commerce have to stop being created in siloed environments. They are two sides of the same coin. That siloed mentality of “different channels of the business” has to shift.  

It’s all about the digital adoption curve — to an extent, it doesn’t exist anymore. Everybody is engaged with technology and mobile and looking for new solutions. The department and grocery stores of the last 50 years will not, and cannot, be the ones for the next 50. Contactless payment will no longer be a “nice to have” convenience. It will be the expectation. 

More importantly, companies should be thinking about how to use technology to deliver a brand experience that comes to life holistically, regardless of the channel or platform of engagement. 

What advice can give retailers trying to define their versions of the store of the future?
Every day is a new future, and it means something different to every single retailer depending on who they are, what makes them special, and their purpose. If you really know thyself and understand who you are, that unlocks worlds of possibility that no one else could do. 

Retailers have to move away from the mindset “because our competitor did X, Y, Z, that’s what we have to do.” Everyone has been running the same plays, and creating the same stores with different colors. 

Also, companies need to embrace human-centric-driven technology that’s embedded intrinsically into the store – just like the physical store is embedded into their digital experiences.