This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 21, 2000

The Future of Retail

285 days until January 1, 2001

What does the future hold for retailers? Here are some forecasts we believe will soon be reality:

  1. Employees will be even more difficult to come by, as the Information Technology and other higher-paying professions lure applicants who would have taken retail positions. Retailers will counter by hiring more part-timers and being more flexible with hours or by choosing to pay a lot more.

  2. Smart retailers will use technology to fill the gaps, offering shopper- friendly terminals that help consumers locate what they're looking for without searching for the disappearing sales help. User-friendly kiosks already help locate stores in malls.

  3. Enlightened retailers will ask for their customers e-mail addresses and buying preferences, so that they may communicate with the customers on-line, drawing those customers into the stores for specials that will appeal specifically to them. The retailers web sites will also be updated frequently to reflect the new merchandise and special offers. Thus, merchandise will be offered both on line and in stores.

  4. For the foreseeable future, some customers will call to place their orders. Recognizing that some consumers will not take their valuable time to go into the physical store or "risk" inputting their credit cards into a computer, smart retailers will offer to send the purchases via UPS or competing service.

  5. More small stores will encourage their salespeople to "get more personal" with the customers by learning about their families and interests. This investment in customers will result in more sales and greater loyalty. It will be like having a store where customers are known and appreciated as they were in years goneby.

  6. Enlightened retailers will understand that they are selling more than merchandise, they are offering a "shopping experience." This experience may offer the opportunity to learn or socialize or be entertained, but it will definitely be more that a simple store purchase.

The retailing world of tomorrow will be very different than it is today. Retailers who want to survive will begin now to plan for the evolution and shifts that are to come.

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