The Retail Evolution

Combining tech and human interaction for a compelling customer experience

The future of retail

Consumers demand a confluence of convenience, choice and control when they shop. In response, savvy retailers are seeking inspiration outside the retail environment, fully recognizing the power of tech-enabled ideas they can adapt.

In our analysis, we examine four tech-enabled approaches that retailers are deploying to provide shoppers with a superior customer experience. They are using deliberate strategies, focused on building advantage from their existing strengths. 

The Retail Evolution

Power machine learning with customer data

Advanced analytics—in which customer data can be deconstructed and then reconstructed to glean ever-more-precise behavioral insights—offers new ways to understand customers, sometimes even before they do so themselves. Tapping precisely into the preferences of potential customers before creating new products provides retailers the opportunity to combine the best of human “teaching”—by asking for input—with the best of machine learning.

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The Retail Evolution
The Retail Evolution

Nurture early digital adopters; they spend more

Early digital adopters expect more, buy more and spend more. Our survey of more than 1,000 consumers nationwide found that early digital adopters are less price-conscious and have higher expectations than consumers overall. Analysts estimate mobile payment will surge more than 16-fold between 2012 and 2020 as consumers adapt to the increasingly prevalent technology.

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Eliminate a major source of customer frustration: the checkout line

Consumers have told us for several years now about their frustration with waiting in line to check out, the final customer touchpoint as a shopper leaves the store. Taking a cue from the payment convenience of ridesharing apps, retailers are experimenting with new forms of digital checkout using scan-and-pay systems, in-app payments, and click-and-collect options. 

The Retail Evolution
The Retail Evolution

Reimagine the store as brand ambassador

No longer merely a warehouse for inventory, today’s reimagined store plays a defining role as brand ambassador for commerce and community. Retailers are finding new ways to make shoppers feel at home. Because—torrid growth notwithstanding—online sales still represent only a small portion (10%) of core retail sales.

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Tyson Cornell

Consumer Markets Industry Leader, PwC US

Eric Shin

Consumer Markets Tax Leader, PwC US

Tom Puthiyamadam

­Global Digital and Consumer Markets Advisory Leader, PwC US

Melissa Palmer

Consumer Markets Assurance Leader, PwC US

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