Carrefour and Amazon lead as retailers best equipped for store of future, says Edge by Ascential

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Carrefour and Amazon are the leading retailers driving transformation in store-based retail, and are best equipped to achieving a ‘Store of the Future’ that will remain relevant with shoppers in the future of retail and shopping, according to e-commerce insights company, Edge by Ascential.

The Store of the Future 2.0 winning strategy report analysed 26 of the top omnichannel and pure-play retailers around the world, scoring them out of 100 for their efforts to achieve a successful ‘Store of the Future’ transformation. The analysis shows that French multinational retailer Carrefour and Amazon scored the highest – with a score of 84. This is attributed to Carrefour pushing forward a range of innovative store-based initiatives, such as its extensive private label offering, experience zones for its organic ‘bio’ range, its radical rethink of its hyper-store network to include partners such as Fnac Darty (France) and Gome (China) and its adoption of frictionless initiatives such as mobile payment, checkoutless solutions and the use of stores to support online fulfilment. Equally, Amazon’s high score is due to its various innovations within its Whole Foods and Amazon Go stores.

Carrefour is one of four retailers in the top five who generate more than half of their sales from hyper-stores; the others include Target (76), Walmart (72) and Kroger (67).

Edge by Ascential analysts assessed retailer performance across five key characteristics to determine the results, which would serve to help retailers identify where to invest in order to achieve ‘Store of the Future’ goals. These are:

  • Experiential – Helping shoppers connect with the brand or retailer via events, experiences to create genuine destinations, pop-up shops to reinvigorate the store, or investment in enhanced customer service that improves the shopping experience.
  • Social – The ways in which shoppers connect with one another, from stores being hubs and spaces for wellness, community or charitable initiatives within the local community, to in-store restaurants and bars.
  • Curated – Building a differentiated proposition, including tailored ranges, product exclusiveness, tiered private label ranges and a best-in-class focus on fresh or other leading trends, which include cause-related curation.
  • Frictionless – Ways in order to aid the in-store shopper experience, from the instalment of technology that facilitates the checkout process, to in-store fulfilment services such as click and collect.
  • Operational Excellence – The overall execution in a profitable and sustainable way, taking into account the efficiency of the supply chain, product availability and cost-cutting through the use of automation and other such capabilities.

As retailers progress towards a ‘Store of the Future’ proposition, Ioli Macridi, an analyst at Edge by Ascential, predicts that retailers will go through three major phases that will give a new meaning to brand roles in the store:

  • The retail store will become more agile in embracing and carrying new products derived from new trends, therefore retailers will need to make more effective use of data to predict upcoming fads 
  • Speed and efficiency will become one of the main requirements for stores, making their digital transformation a more comprehensive reality.
  • As shoppers begin to complete the majority of purchases online, the traditional concept of the store as a sales engine will shift towards broader notions of customer experience, inspiration and engagement. 

Ioli Macridi, Analyst, Edge by Ascential, said: “Following the growth of pureplay online retailers and changing consumer expectations, retail stores today are under a lot of pressure to retain shopper’s attention. However, physical stores can remain an integral part of the future of retail as long as they reinvent to stay relevant, through various innovations. This includes experiential elements in-store to drive excitement and product discovery, social elements that increase dwell time in the store and give shoppers multiple reasons to return, a supply of exclusive and tailored products, and the sophisticated use of digital tools that speed up and remove friction from payment and other processes. These are just a selection of initiatives that we recommend retailers adopt if they are looking towards a strategy for in-store success.”