Doug Stephens – a world-renowned ‘retail futurist’ and Founder of retail consultancy, The Retail Profit, spoke at the 2017 Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association (DHPA) Annual Conference. He predicted significant changes in the retail landscape for the bathroom industry, explaining that online sales are compounding at a global rate between 12 and 35 percent, and within 15 years, he expects that ecommerce sales will exceed purchases in brick-and-mortar stores and showrooms. Stephens told DPHA members that because of developments in the internet and virtual reality, most essential items will now be ordered automatically by these technological advances within the home. This will mean physical retail stores and showrooms may need to re-invent themselves into spaces that deliver interactive physical and emotional experiences, in order to maintain impact.
Stephens explained, “The three quarters empty bag of dog food in your home will suddenly have the capability to re-order itself. Using the third-to-last diaper in the carton will trigger the order of 40 new diapers delivered to your door. The light bulb that’s going to burn out will order its own replacement, taking into account shipping times from your online provider. Sensors in your running shoes will measure tread depth and trigger a reorder when necessary. By 2025, 30% of everything in the centre aisle of a grocery store will be purchased automatically.”
In a complementary workshop, Chris Ramey shared his expertise for delivering exceptional customer experiences. He noted that the four traditional P’s of retail – product, pricing, promotion and place – have been replaced by the four E’s – experience, exchange, evangelism and everywhere. Ramey encouraged DPHA members to reinvent their brand showrooms – each, he said, should now be about a personal statement and an individual experience.