Millennials' demand for instant gratification is shaping the future of retail

Online is a fast growing, vital channel for brands but the speed of logistics hasn't quite caught up - leaving consumers frustrated and businesses facing the big challenge of how to turn things around.

The future of retail: could drones one day be the norm?
The future of retail: could drones one day be the norm?

As Future Laboratory trends researcher Victoria Buchanan says: "the idea someone would want to sit in and wait all day for an Asos package is ridiculous." 

Poor customer experience at delivery can ultimately negatively impact brand image and businesses are taking steps to carve out the future of online shopping.

So in this multichannel age, what does the future of retail look like? And what are brands doing to make online shopping a seamless experience?

Click and collect is already impacting the shape of retail. Significantly, stalwart John Lewis outlined the strength of its own click and collect performance over Christmas –when it overtook home delivery for the first time ever, accounting for 56% of online orders.

Millenials have a one click mentality

John Lewis has the benefit of strong store locations, but other companies are experimenting with different delivery options – from small pods with changing rooms that offer immediate returns for clothes, to click and collect counters at local shops.

Millenials are creating a shift in the retail landscape

Brands including Asos, Boden, Amazon and New Look are all investing in innovative ways to make delivery cheaper and more convenient. Supermarkets like Asda are also experimenting with click and collect lockers at underground stations.

Buchanan says millennials are creating this emerging shift in the retail landscape.

"What’s really driving this is the need for instant gratification, which really chimes with a millennial audience. Even when ordering online they crave immediacy.

"Millennials are twice as likely to pick up online groceries on the same day as purchase and 46% will pay higher for same day delivery," she says.

Fundamentally there is one thing shaping the future of retail: the desire for convenience – and within that the desire for immediacy in a multichannel world.

"A brand like Amazon is designed to make life as easy as possible for consumers – and other retailers are now borrowing this idea – they can’t wait three days to deliver."

Brands can't wait three days to deliver

Doddle is a joint partnership between Network Rail and Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman. Since launching in 2014 it has opened 30 shops at major railway stations including London Waterloo and London Victoria, it aims to open around 300 over the next few years. As many as 40,000 parcels can be held between the 30 stores currently open in the UK.

Marketing director Paddy Earnshaw says Doddle is an agnostic service that allows consumers to select a Doddle shop as the delivery location on a package from any online site. It then holds the package in the manned shop – open all year, seven days a week, for collection.

With close proximity to railways, the idea is that commuters can pick up packages to or from work. An important element for retailers – he claims – is that consumers can return unwanted items immediately.

Anticipatory shopping is the future

Doddle has partnered with Asos, and can bulk returns back to the depot, stripping out the cost of multiple deliveries. This helps to answer an "important question for the future of retail" – which is how businesses strip out some of the costs of returns.

"We see click and collect as being one of the central tenants of online shopping. People want online shopping to fit into their lifestyles," he says. "Our locations are pivotal to the success of our business, if we are any more than 30 seconds out of the normal commuter route, it’s too far."

The challenge is educating consumers about the brand. It’s taken out print ads in the London press – including Stylist and Shortlist, and implemented "station domination" at Waterloo and Victoria station, emblazoning the brand name at points across the space to tap into a commuter audience.

Earnshaw has the "classic start up marketers challenge – how can I a) change behaviour, b) make people aware of the service and c) ensure brands adopt us."

The connected shopper will shape the future of retail

Gazing into the future, the idea of the connected consumer will play an even bigger role in shaping online shopping, and is a big opportunity for brands, Future Laboratory's Victoria Buchanan says. 

"The idea of pre-emptive retail [is gaining traction] and Amazon is already planning for this.

"Anticipatory shopping using data and analytics could send something to you before you’ve ordered it – if they crack it you could get your product before you knew you needed it."

Already, offline bricks and mortar retailers are already being forced to take learnings from ecommerce sites as well as vice versa -  and they need to, she claims.

The sharing economy is making us more trusting

"Millenials have a one click mentality – that’s the way they shop in store and they expect digital to be the same." Brands need to innovate to make this a reality.

"The sharing economy is making us more trusting of other people and I think this is an area that could definitely take up," she says. 

The concept of the sharing economy could really disrupt retailers in the not too distant future - with the idea of an Uber driver delivering a package whilst collecting a passenger not too implausable.

But as for drone deliveries? Could we really expect our packages to be delivered via automated drones in the not too distant future?

Whilst brands like Amazon are testing Prime Air drone deliveries- it's unlikely this will be viable in the near future. It's more of a PR stunt to show off its delivery capabilities, she says, given of course its "still illegal to use drones in the US."

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