What's in store for the future of retail?

Our pop up in Covent Garden was more than just the destination to shop independent beauty + wellbeing. We hosted eight exciting events in store in just two weeks! From Beauty + Wellbeing Trends, to yoga classes and our celebration of Black-owned British Beauty brands, our pop up has been a hub for all things beauty + wellbeing. 

One of the highlights was an event featuring some of retail's most influential experts. Discussing the future of retail, and how town centres need to evolve to survive, we were joined by Bill Grimsey, retail expert and and author of the Grimsey Report; Natalie Berg, Retail Analyst, Founder of NBK Retail and co-author of “Amazon"; and Martin Newman, Founder of The Customer First Group.

How the last 18 months affected retailers

Rebecca led the panel in discussing the changes and challenges retail has faced in the past 18 months, describing how retailers had to adapt quickly during the pandemic. 

From new strategies such as ‘curbside pickup’ - which Walmart launched in a matter of days - improved ‘click + collect’ propositions to a rise in home deliveries across the board, the last 18 months were a great learning experience for retailers and customers, and according to Bill Grimsey: “Covid accelerated what would have happened by 2030 into one year”.

There were mixed views on the role of stores vs ecommerce going forward. Martin Newman, expert on consumer experience, explained that “people like going back to physical retail, because they feel like they’ve missed out”. And Natalie Berg shared that “we need to balance e-commerce with physical retail” and that “retailers need to learn to adapt and stop being part of mediocre retail”.

What is the Future of Retail?

Our panel gave some great insight into what retailers can do to compete with giants like Amazon, in particular. 

Natalie Berg stated that “small retailers and businesses can do what Amazon can’t do... that is to build community, provide unique experiences and offer connections”.

Martin Newman agreed that the future of retail is all about the experience; and Amazon and big retailers cannot provide the individual experience that an independent retailer can.

And Bill Grimsey, whose latest report that concluded that City Councils need to “unpick the cloned towns and make town centres places of community”, set out the burning platform for independent retail, arguing that: “The Government needs to act and support small businesses, because otherwise it will be ‘death by a thousand cuts’, and these businesses will die and disappear.”

What our event attendees thought

It was great to network with some of the founders of brands sold at Seekology at our events. Joanna Silva from Elan Skincare said: "The session on the future of retail was both thought-provoking and encouraging. Recently there has been a lot of talk around the death of the high street, accelerated by pandemic and the exponential rise of Amazon and other big e-commerce players".

She went on to share the key things she learnt: "retail outlets can succeed if they combine great, customer-focused service with offering memorable experience and creating a community. Transactional retail is over, but there is room for smaller independents who can offer much more value in terms of purpose, community, and personalization. I feel hugely inspired and energised by that session and will be grabbing my copy of Amazon: How the World’s Most Relentless Retailer will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce by Natalie Berg, one of the panelists."

Another brand founder, Julia of Skin:Genius said: “I found the event on ‘The Future of Retail’ very insightful. The retail industry is changing rapidly and retail stores need to consider different ways of operating, both on the high street and on-line.  Shopping will be about experiences in-store using all senses and will be at the heart of bringing/keeping communities together. Exciting times ahead.”

We couldn't agree more, Julia! Huge thanks to all our panellists and attendees for helping us put on a world-class event.

Future Events

To be the first to hear about our future events, sign up to Seekology emails or check our events page.