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Interview with Cor Molenaar

1. Your latest book is called The End of Shops. Is this actually the case or do you still see a role for the physical bricks and mortar shop in the future?

The end of shopping is my latest book in English. It is more of a study into the future of shops. I am convinced that the need to go to a shop will be less in the future, the internet will take a major role in shopping in the future. Shops have to motivate customers to buy, and shops have to focus on their location to make it attractive for buyers. A major change in shopping behaviour and shopping locations is imminent.

2. How should retailers review and adapt their business models to maximise revenue from the new buying behaviours?

Retailers should integrate internet into their business model; not only with a web shop but also with mobile application and sensory systems to follow customers in the shop. Another possibility is changing the inventory. Slow moving articles can also be offered through internet tables, smart mirrors or tables. After ordering in the shop the items can be delivered within an hour to your home or to the shop. The internet and internet based devices are the basis for shopping, not an add-on any more.

3. How important is it to focus on the customer and how significant is the role of the internet in this?

The major change in retailing is the change from offering a selection of articles to facilitating a customer journey.

The customers are searching the internet, getting information on social media and communicating with social media or other sources on the internet. The customer then decides to purchase on either the internet or in the shop. This customer journey should be the main focus of retailers and they need to ensure they are relevant to the customer at every stage. A new focus and a new paradigm.

4. Which retailers will survive into the future and why?

The hybrid retailers with a proposition in the physical shopping area, on the internet and with mobile devices will survive. The other survivors will be retailers who adapt products and the offer to the personal needs and wants of customers, along with shops which can attract and keep customers with services, loyalty and internet applications. Be relevant for a customer at any time and anyhow.

5. Does the consumer ultimately benefit from all the changes that are and will continue to take place in the retail environment, or does the retailer benefit?

Now retailer will focus on the customer journey, customers will get more services and more personal attention. The future is no longer in selling but in buying, focus on the buying motives of individual customers. Technology can and will facilitate this approach and the customer will benefit with a better offer, more service and lower prices. A game with only winners!