Self-Service and Customization are the Future of Retail

Self-Service and Customization are the Future of Retail

March 22, 2017         Written By Bill Hardekopf

Retail shopping as we know it will change dramatically in the coming years. Recent research from Synchrony Financial indicates self-service and customization will top the list of changes coming to the retail world by 2030.

Synchrony’s inaugural Future of Retail: Insight and Influences Shaping Retail Innovation report, which asked retail experts and over 1,000 consumers what excited them the most about the evolving retail environment, uncovered six main themes.

The Evolution of Self-Service
New technology will usher in an era of do-it-yourself shopping by changing the way shoppers access, select and pay for goods and services. Synchrony’s research indicates that self-serve retailers, 24/7 stores with robot-assisted drive-thrus and interactive mirrors will be mainstream by 2030. Nearly half (47%) of the consumers surveyed said interactive touchscreen mirrors in dressing rooms are one of the top three most exciting future innovations.

Shoppers fully expect retailers to use their personal information to provide customized products and offers. Technology such as RFID in phones and wearable biometrics will allow retailers to direct shoppers to items they prefer and offer individualized sales offers. In-home chat bot devices and digital assistants will also become popular.

Retail On-Demand
Technology will also make it easier for shoppers to instantly purchase or return items. Over three-fourths (77%) of respondents said they expect returning online purchases will be much better in the future. Return buttons in retailer apps, which re-package and pick-up items, are just one way that returns will be easier. Shoppers will also expect more immediate gratification in the form of stores on wheels, trunk stores, pop-up shops and subscription services.

Retail in the Home
High-definition cameras will allow shoppers to use virtual or augmented reality to see how a new sofa, drapes, paint, garage door or flooring will look in their home. Consumers will also be able to purchase in-home retailer services, buy on-demand with smart labels or QR codes, shop in 3D and use instant try-on features.

“Why have anything altered again?” said Bart Schaller, CMO of Synchrony Financial. “Shoppers will be able to take a perfectly dimensioned picture of a person’s body, type and form and upload it to retailer apps. Without moving from the sofa, a pair of pants will arrive at their doorstep ready to go.”

More Entertaining Brick-and-Mortar Stores 
In the future, brick-and-mortar stores will tap into consumer desires to deliver a better brand experience. More than half of the respondents (55%) are excited to see in-store entertainment experiences at coffee shops, cafes, music venues and bars, along with complimentary samples of products or services.

Brand Streamlining
More than half (57%) of consumers agree that retailers should streamline their services and focus on doing one or two things well. Online retailers will reduce the need for one-stop-shop stores and specialty retailers will remain the go-to for high-involvement categories.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of March 22, 2017. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.
View all posts by Bill Hardekopf
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