On a trip to Shanghai a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a grocery store called “Hema” when looking up robot restaurants. More than a typical grocery store, Hema represents the future of retail. Your smartphone acts as a shopping guide: scanning items, providing product details, and managing payments. The store seamlessly combines online and offline shopping, serving as a fast fulfilment center for online orders. It offers real-time digital price tags, AI product recommendations, facial recognition payments, and even a dining experience with robot servers.
New Retail, exemplified by stores like Hema, seamlessly integrates online and offline commerce using cutting-edge technology, optimising costs and boosting sales for both sellers and buyers. Spearheaded by giants like Alibaba and Amazon, this approach harmoniously merges vast digital networks with conventional retail.
The Game-Changing Potential of New Retail
Imagine shopping at your local mall where even mundane experiences, like a restroom break, are reimagined. Waiting in line? Try out makeup shades virtually on a smart mirror and, if you like what you see, make an immediate purchase from a nearby vending machine – Ladies room to Makeup lounge!
Due to this potential, New retail is one of the biggest stories in retail for the future and its tremendous complexity is truly fascinating! Attempting to fulfil the personalised needs of each consumer, businesses are slowly shifting to omni-channel models, causing the boundary between online and offline commerce to fade away. Companies are integrating media, entertainment, and gamification into retail, making it an interactive experience. For instance, during Asia’s Global
Shopping Festival, viewers instantly buy what they see on runways through see-now-buy-now features, turning passive watching into active shopping.
Imagine stores acting as fulfilment centres, seamless facial recognition payments, advanced beacons for hyper-personalisation, and smart mirrors with gesture recognition enabling trials without ever changing clothes—these advancements are set to reshape retail more in the upcoming decade than it has evolved in the past millennium.
Sustainability X New Retail
As New Retail revolutionises the way we shop, it simultaneously provides an avenue to make retail more environmentally conscious, paving the way for sustainable practices in retail:
- Beyond its cutting-edge feel, New Retail’s advanced digital technology is a sentinel against waste. By harnessing granular data analytics, we are not just refining supply chains; we’re preserving our planet. This optimisation dramatically reduces waste, making each shopping trip an act of eco-responsibility.
- In an era where landfills overflow with unsold goods, New Retail’s precision-focused inventory management is a breath of fresh air. By producing to meet genuine consumer demand, we’re not just avoiding overstock; we’re actively conserving resources and safeguarding our environment.
- By emphasising localised fulfilment centres, New Retail drastically reduces the need for long-distance shipping. Every product that travels less distance means fewer emissions and a significant step towards a cleaner, greener Earth.
- New Retail ensures that production meets genuine demand, eradicating excess. By championing a circular economy, New Retail is not only ensuring that goods are recycled and reused but is reshaping the very ethos of consumption, heralding a future where shopping nurtures the planet.
Reducing Carbon footprint
Sustainably Meeting Demand
As stores mirror websites and vice versa, the fusion of online and offline touch-points is vital for future growth. In fact, I envision a future not limited to just online or offline models, but one dominated by fully digitised businesses offering tailored, seamless, and intuitive shopping experiences. How ready are you for the retail revolution?
About the author
Mahesh Jamb, MBA2025 has a dynamic background in Indian tech startups, particularly in the e-beauty sector. With four years of experience, his most recent role involved leading the Data Product Team at a renowned e-beauty unicorn, focusing on pricing automation and other data-driven initiatives. His passion lies in fostering innovative growth and sustainability within SMEs in developing countries, especially in the consumer sector. Mahesh’s journey is marked by a commitment to leveraging technology for strategic advancements and impactful business solutions.