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DES GB 11 Magazin en

Greater differentia- tion of formats and an unending variety of shop concepts can be expected in the future: from nos- talgic book shops to per- sonalised high-tech stores, and from local weekly markets to virtual shopping centers. The challenge shared by all retailers is to have an awareness of what the function of a shop really is. The days of simply holding stock in a prime location are definitely over. And the likelihood is that we will need less straightforward retail space. Instead, shops must increasingly play to their original strength as social meeting places, a local first port of call and a real showroom in a world that consumers increasingly perceive as a virtual one. That will of course always be a balancing act, as even the “third place” offering a high quality of experience must ultimately pay the rent. Will people in 10 or 20 years’ time really be content to only interact online when they shop? Despite the growth in online shopping, that appears unrealistic from today’s vantage point. Nevertheless, we cannot deny the reality of the online evolution. Rather, retailers need to find intelligent strategies for supplementing “clicks” with “bricks”. If in future consumers can photograph any item (such as the shoes or handbags of passers by) they see on the street using their mobile phone, then for tra- ditional retailers the route to the store could become their greatest enemy. There is only one solution: to seize the new technologies, but intelligently so. There is a great deal that is already technically feasible today. But the more important question is what really makes sense from a customer perspective. And if 21st century consumers find it too iso- lating to shop with a pixellated basket, if time is too short to com- pare prices online, if social media recommendations become too confusing, then they will learn to value the local corner shop again – retailers that do not waste custo- mers’ time but instead add value by enriching or simplifying their lives. However, shop owners should not hope for too much in the way of nostalgia. Although a handful of small, high-end record shops are popping up on the streets again, farmers’ markets are pro- ving popular and weekly markets are delive- ring an inspiring shopping experience, these are profitable niches, but remain marginal. Retailers that are able to meld the real and the virtual at least as well as their customers are already doing have the greatest potential. BRICKS OR CLICKS? BOTH! pare prices online, if social media GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute The GDI is a leading Swiss economic and social thinktank. It regularly conducts research into and publishes papers on consumer and retail issues. The GDI hosts international conferences and also acts as an event venue. You can find more information and photo- graphs at www.gdi.chgraphs at www.gdi.chgraphs at Further reading Martina Kühne, “The Story of Unstoring – Weshalb der Laden kein Laden mehr ist” (The Story of Unstoring – Why a Shop Is No Longer a Shop), GDI study no. 33, 2010, TIP 44 DES Annual Report 2011 THE CENTERS shops in the future