A Glimpse into the Retail Landscape of 2029

March 20, 2024

The retail industry, continuously in flux, is poised for significant transformations in the next five years. Industry leaders predict a landscape shaped by seamless tech integration, evolving consumer preferences, and a redefinition of what constitutes the “store” experience.

Given the boom in ecommerce, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not surprising that more and more consumers are going online for their shopping needs. The surge has coincided with breakthroughs in technology, like artificial intelligence, which is expected to revolutionize how people shop and find products.

Optimizing for search engines, a practice known as SEO, in recent years has been critical for brands making sure they stand out on ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon. Yet, according to industry leaders, that is expected to change.

“The search engine is going to be archaic. It’s going to be the cassette tape in 20 years. Younger generations are going to laugh at the idea of using a search engine because search engines aren’t that intelligent,” former CEO of Walmart, Marc Lore, told NBC. Instead, he expects A.I.-based voice command search tools to become the mainstream method consumers use to find products – a trend already being demonstrated by young consumers shopping through their mobile devices.

Millennial and Generation Z shoppers also hold different values and expectations regarding their brand choice. Today, these consumers prioritize experiences over simple transactions and want to identify emotionally with brands. Experts like Trina Spear, CEO of Figs, believe this provides companies the opportunity to expand the definition of the shopping experience to better connect with potential audiences.

“Stores just acting kind of as a transactional thing in the world is going to become less and less relevant,” she said, “… what’s going to become more relevant is having an experiential destination for our community to come together, to meet and be connecting with not only the brand but also each other.”

Michelle Gass, CEO of Levi Strauss, echoed that sentiment: “I think consumers are going to raise the bar, and they’re just going to expect that because when you can just shop and do a transaction a click away, there has to be a higher purpose for a store.”
Innovative stores might offer workshops, entertainment options, or community spaces alongside traditional shopping areas, all of which offers opportunity for stores to build a brand image beyond simply what the product offers, all while offering virtual services to stay connected with their target audience remotely.

The future of retail is brimming with exciting possibilities and challenges in equal measure. By staying informed about industry trends, embracing technological advancements, and prioritizing customer experience, retailers can position themselves for success in the ever-evolving landscape of 2029 and beyond.