The evolution of retail has shaped the fabric of the American economy. As American citizens, it feels like retail shopping is in our DNA. We are by far the largest consumers in the world. We have been for the last few centuries.
But exactly where and how we consume has changed greatly. Here is a simplified timeline:
200 Years Ago: We packed up our carriages and went to the General Store once every couple months to pick up goods.
100 Years Ago: Department Stores
70 Years Ago: Credit Cards invade
50 Years Ago: The Catalogue
30 Years Ago: Supermalls!
20 Years Ago: The internet thing brings E-Commerce
Which brings us today. The year 2017.
What does the retail industry look like?
The numbers tell one side of the story: Retail directly and indirectly supports 42 million jobs, provides $1.6 trillion in labor income and contributes $2.6 trillion annually to U.S. GDP (NRF).
Traditional retail still powers our economy.
While 94% of all retail sales still take place in stores, e-Commerce sales are expected to increase annually by 17%, reaching $414 billion by 2018(RTP).
But on the other end looms the declining sales of brick and mortar stores. We are going through an evolutionary period in retail where companies need to innovate to keep up.
The question I have, and the one that is at the center of this week’s Moonshots Discussion, is what will retail look like 20, 30 years from now?
How will the retail industry change over the next 3 decades?
Inevitably, technology will become a more and more important part of the retail shopping experience.
But how exactly will that experience look and feel? To what extent will we as consumers place a value on the in store experience vs e-commerce. What does employment look like? Where will costs have to be cut? How will the data we use change to sell to customers change? What about shipping?
Here are some interesting links about the topic:
I am excited for the conversation. Check our FB group for the meeting or email me if you want to get involved jordangonen1 @ gmail.com . If you are not a student at WashU, and still interested, still email me, would love to chat!
Check out some of our other stories on the blog: