Recap from ICSC Western Conference

On October 8-10, I attended the ICSC Western Conference event.  ICSC is the world’s largest organization that governs the retail shopping industry.  Each year, as a committed retail real estate professional, I attend the three local ICSC Events: Anaheim in February, Las Vegas in May, and Los Angeles in October.

My managing broker, Brad Umansky, wrote an excellent blog post about his thoughts about the conference, which I will include as a part of this newsletter.  Rather than repeat his content, I will summarize my thoughts on a panel discussion that focused on “The Future of Retail.”

 

The two biggest themes from this discussion were convenience and experiential shopping.

 

Convenience

The panelists envisioned a future shopping experience where lines would no longer exist.  Time is at a premium, and our future shopping experience would have no lines in the parking lot, and no lines to check out to pay for merchandise.  Amazon is experimenting with this in their Amazon Go stores. You just pick up an item and walk out the store with it. Technology takes care of scanning the item and charging your credit card.

 

The term “omnichannel” came up frequently, and refers to a shopping experience that combines the online and in-person shopping.  For example:

  • Most bricks-and-mortar stores have now caught on to having online shopping web sites.
  • Many stores are now allowing you to shop online but pick up (or return) your goods at the store.  
  • If you are shopping in a store and the item is out of stock, the retailer should be able to ship it to your home in the next day or two.  

In order to offer an omnichannel experience, retailers need to tie their in-store inventory together in real-time with their warehouse and web site inventory.

 

Experiential shopping – bark parks at Walmart?

Walmart believes that the customer of the future will choose where to shop based on experience, not on price.  As an experiment, Walmart has been putting dog parks inside their stores so people can shop with their pets. Walmart has seen that their veterinary and pharmacy sales have increased dramatically in these stores.  


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