on retailers and brands that are socially or
intellectually satisfying. Other shopping
centers will be purely about logistics. That
latter group will become less important
over time, or find other uses—say, medical,
religious, or educational.
As stores become either highly experiential or primarily focused on logistics, a new
group of concepts will pop up. Customers
will be looking for stores to come to them
through such means as personal sales, store
trucks (consider how food trucks changed
the fast-casual industry), and augmented
reality and visualization technologies. Even
micro-manufacturing technologies such as
3D printing will turn that spare room at
home into a point that will allow the consumer to serve the needs of others; thus,
the consumer becomes manufacturer and
What’s next for brands
This fragmentation of the traditional
manufacturing and retail cycle will put
additional pressure on what have become
“retail brands.” The pressure will even
affect brands whose ability to access a distant source led to logistical expertise, but
from a mono-brand perspective. Brands
already have created alliances and/or
invited third-party brands into their environment (think J. Crew, H&M). The future
will see more of this.
Vertical brands in some ways will go back
to the retail specialty store format of the
’50s and ’60s. Curators, buyers, and wholesale markets at the time created a much
broader diversity of consumer options and
merchandising formats than the big community that exists around the mall’s “Me
3’s” (good, better, best of products) for
almost every merchandising category or
consumer segment (think the three T-shirt
guys, the three skate guys, etc.).
Midsize regional chains will typically
be close to the customer; understand their
shopper’s uniqueness from a neighborhood, city, or regional perspective; and be
able to respond with a faster pace of fashion and a greater sense of marketplace than
megachains currently do.
The behind-the-scenes operational and
functional elements of stores (the basic
hardware and infrastructure) will increas-
ingly be commoditized, while commoditi-
zation of front-of-the-house elements will
decrease. Leaders will take advantage of
the growth of a creative workforce whose
talents range from execution to creativity.
Retailers will leverage emerging omniplat-
forms (as the term “channel” becomes
obsolete) to source talent, vendors, and
suppliers to run these new retail concepts.
What will evolve, but not be excluded,
are the principles of consumer experience,
reinvention, and the power of creativity to
communicate and differentiate the next
generation retail enterprises.
Kenneth Nisch, 248-355-
0890, is principal of JGA, a
retail design and brand strat-
egy firm in Southfield, Mich.
Nisch applies his knowledge
and entrepreneurial insight into consumer
markets to create concept and prototype
development, brand image positioning, and
The Digital Ecosystem exists below the consumer “waterline.” Above the waterline are elements
such as mobile and tablet interface, kiosks, and apps. Below the waterline are the logistics,
metadata, and algorithms that tell us what, how, and when to push offers and products to consumers.