20 Nov 2013

It's retail - but not as we know it

8:11 am on 20 November 2013

Smart stores with intelligent shelves, drones delivering pizzas and robotic sales assistants are the next step for retailing in the coming decade.

But New Zealand retailers have been warned they must make the customer experience inspiring, entertaining and challenging or they won't survive.

Retail experts from Britain and Australia told a seminar on the future of retail on Tuesday the bricks and mortar store was not dead but that every business and brand must go digital.

Futurecaster Matthew Jones, of Intel Australia and New Zealand, said stores would have to learn how to answer to the demands of the digital-savvy Generation Z.

"They're demanding, they live in the now, they live through mobile ... that's how they experience their world," Mr Jones said.

"So for retailers, it really requires them to embrace these generations that are coming up, understand more so about what is moving with them, and really change the face of retail."

The digital age, or big data, was giving retailers a proliferation of information about individual customers but it also raised concerns about privacy, he said.

IdeaWorks Australia New Zealand chairman Jon Bird said despite dire warnings about the demise of the traditional shop, online retailers were now opening physical stores.

"Physical has become fashionable again and online retailers are racing to open offline stores, bricks and mortar stores, around the world. That's got to tell you something."

Mr Bird predicted click and collect would be the big retail trend this Christmas, where customers ordered online and picked up their purchases rather than having them delivered.