Rethinking the Post-Pandemic “Store of the Future”

Attempts to create a “store of the future” are littered with failure due to gimmicky concepts that over-promised and under-delivered. Here are concepts that change the rules and work.

There is an understandable feeling today among retailers that because non-essential stores were empty during the COVID-19 pandemic this is a perfect opportunity to start fresh. We can’t just go back to the way things were, right? Even “essential” stores, the thinking goes, this is a time to throw out the rule book.

However, it would be a mistake to use the gyrations of the pandemic to be a prime driver behind a retailer’s next “store of the future.” Even before the pandemic, tectonic shifts were occurring in ways consumers shop and, importantly, several leading retailers were already responding and making big changes to their stores.

Here’s a look at four new store concepts that have recently emerged in our pandemic-influenced marketplace. One thing these “stores of the future” have in common is they take an evolutionary approach to innovation, an approach that enhances but does not disrupt the ease and convenience of shopping. The new concepts remain consistent with the retailer’s brand promise while simultaneously adding new capabilities that augment the shopping experience.