What is the future for retail?


As the growth of Amazon continues to power ahead, they announced that they are now looking for a second headquarters in the US to create at least 50,00 high paying jobs. 218 cities pitched to be included and 20 are on the beauty parade and no doubt working hard to make sure they offer everything that Amazon wants. The relentless growth of Amazon continues with the opening of the concept store in Seattle which showcases the store of the future.

The store has no checkout operators or self-service tills. The gates to enter are very similar to those found on the London underground. There are no trolleys or baskets, the goods selected go straight from shelf to your own bag. Hundreds of ceiling-mounted cameras and electronic sensors to identify each customer and track the items selected and purchases are billed to your credit card when you leave the store.

Amazon may or may not sell the system to other retails in the same way it sells its cloud computing services to companies. The system would work perfectly for duty free as they know who you are where you are going. This would put an end to the irritating perfume sprayers as you rush towards your flight departure.

It all sounds very futuristic a bit like the sound of emails some 20 years ago, but what does this mean for the millions of people employed in the retail business? Some will be needed to keep the show on the road but others will have to move on, one thing is for certain, people who understand customer services and interacting with the customer will succeed in this brave new world of retailing.


Dickens Yard

The very rich are already embracing a new lifestyle, which relies on people to provide services, which they are too busy to do and this will filter down and become more affordable. Already property developers such as the Berkeley Group offer a range of services and growth of concierge services and organisations like Fantastic Services, who are ready to supply a plumber or a cleaner at the click of a button. Plantation Wharf on the river at Battersea has a whole team who just want to please their tenants and supply exemplary service. Amazon and other online retailers will supply the basics of life, allowing people to continue to grow in experience driven events and spending money on craftsman created pieces where you can have a say in what is being created for you.

Jewellery created with love by the craftsman who exhibit at the Goldsmith’s Fair in London every September. This is where you can arrange to visit the designer in their studio and watch your piece of jewellery being made – a visit to Tina Engell’s studio in Bath where you can lean over the workbench and watch Tina at work, is fascinating. You can have the same experience at the House of Garrard in Albemarle Street and meet the jeweller who will design your necklace to wear to the wedding of Megan and Harry.


Tina Engell Ring

Fashion is already creating new designers, for example Longstaff & Longstaff create loungewear and the pyjamas are works of art. A coat from the renowned embroidery guru Geraldine Larkin will ensure you are buying an heirloom piece, which will stand the test of time as well as receiving many compliments. Of course, there are suits from Saville Row cut to fit you perfectly and to last forever. These are all retail experiences, which you have a part to play in what is designed and demonstrates your personality.

Property developers are looking for property managers who can look after all the tenant’s needs. The porter in your apartment block who once upon a time just grunted as you walked past is now your own assistant with the ability to book your restaurants, organise the collection of your laundry and get your car washed. Sadly, we did meet a grunting miserable porter in a multi-million-pound apartment block in Mayfair. Getting up to open the door was a struggle for him and he did nothing to assist in the marketing of the properties and at the time of writing they are still for sale. First appearances count.

Geraldine Larkin Coat

Although Amazon represents a cloud on the horizon, this particular cloud has a silver lining. The opportunities for people losing their job in retails are enormous, but for entrepreneurial sales professionals the world will really be their oyster as a higher level of customer service is required in every aspect in life. For example, in the USA they are advertising dog walkers you book on line and you can track by GPS where they take your dog and how long the walk lasts. Can’t wait for it to be available in London.

Dickens Yard image courtesy Lee Baron; Tina Engell Ring image courtesy Goldsmith’s Fair ; Geraldine Larkin Coat image courtesy Geraldine Larkin.