ACS Summit 2018 Review: UK convenience already embracing future of retail
As we enter retail’s new dawn, it’s unsurprising that the ACS (Association of Convenience Stores) Summit this week focused on the impending consumer trends that are set to change the face of retail as we know it.
For those that have read our earlier blog that reported on The Future Laboratory’s Trends impacting consumers across the next five to ten years, you’ll be familiar with the notion of a future built on “A Subconscious Commerce, Networked Living, Post Growth Society and Reach-in Retail”. It was fascinating to hear at the Summit this week how the convenience sector is already fully embracing this change with some early adoption techniques.
A point that resonated with me came from the award-winning convenience store operator, Mital Morar, who said his store will never be finished and is a constantly evolving model. This agile approach is, in my opinion, fundamental to future resilience. As noted by The Future Laboratory, consumers are increasingly demanding new, hyper levels of convenience and, in part, brands are diversifying into brand residences that immerse consumers into their ethos and aesthetics. Mital’s business proposition is case in point.
Operating in the bustling and trendy northern quarter of Manchester, Mital’s operation – Ancoats – is far more than a convenience store. Working with a roster of street vendors, Ancoats offers delicious, fresh food-to-go and eat-in options. There is also local craft beer on tap and a barista offering healthy charcoal and beetroot lattes. A ‘social area’ sits within in the space, offering seating, free WIFI and an events calendar that even boasts live DJ sets!
Talk about creating a destination! And that’s exactly what’s needed in today’s retail space – a proposition that gives people multiple reasons to leave their connected homes and enter the physical store.
Demonstrating convenience on another level altogether, FamilyMart’s Hidenori Tsunematsu spoke about how the business has evolved in recent times to keep up with changing consumer needs. I was interested to learn that Japan’s average age is 46 and 30% of the population is over 65, making it the oldest country in the world. FamilyMart has, as a result, introduced both a delivery service for the elderly – where the deliverymen also help the customer with chores in their house – as well as ‘FamilyMart on Wheels’ (mobile mini convenience stores) and automated super deli vending machines.
I left the conference feeling energised about the opportunities that the future of retail represents for our clients. Any notion of a retail apocalypse was eradicated in my mind. The success stories from the early adopters proves that retailers and brands alike have the license to pioneer a new landscape; a landscape that is made up of integrated experiences (not transactions) – and retail ‘destinations’ that offer the ultimate in varied conveniences.