In 2015, the face of retail in Canada will drastically change into showroom style boutiques and branded ecosystems – creating new opportunities for brands, distributors and retailers to engage consumers in-person and virtually like never before.

While retail customers are used to seeing products hanging on pegboards, metal shelving, boxy product displays and looping product videos, that is no longer enough to keep them engaged – especially with web stores offering more video options, end-user reviews and more photography than what’s typically on product packaging.

Retail stores will begin to embrace these branded showrooms as part of providing consumers more of what they want, which is consumer-vetted products and Internet trends, as opposed to what companies want to sell them.

Each branded area in the store will feel like a completely different environment when you walk into it.  Inside, you’ll get to embrace the brand culture, be able to test the product hands-on, see examples of how they’re made, and learn about the company and consumer rapport through live social feeds.

Apple and Microsoft have already begun to embrace this evolution in retail with custom in-store spaces. When you walk into the Apple section of Future Shop, you feel like you just stepped into the Apple Store.

So what retailers will try to capture this first? There’s Future Shop as mentioned above, but this also gives a big box brand like The Bay the edge to stage its biggest comeback yet. For struggling brands like Target, it may provide the much-needed differentiators from being pigeonholed as a competitor to Walmart.

Contrary to popular belief, retail is not dying. It’s actually quite far from it. Web sales will account for only 10 per cent of all retail sales in North America in 2015, so besides seeing more online retail competition, we’ll also see an insurgence of big box stores and department stores looking to capture the one edge they still have over the web – the “try it before you buy it” experience that drives over 74 per cent of Canadian sales.

In 2015, it goes without saying that retailers are going to need to embrace technology and apps in brand-new ways to engage their customers, or a competitor will do it for them. But more importantly, they’re going to need to step up their pomp and circumstance in-store to enchant visitors into becoming evangelists and repeat customers.

Seeing is believing.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
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Ashley Huffman
Startup, technology and girls in tech evangelist. Can be found behind the scenes at Nano Magnetics Ltd getting things done. Professional @Nanodots builder and Guinness World Record holder. Fan of life hacks, Scrum and WOW, in no particular order. Self proclaimed Twitter addict.