Prof. Dr. Stephan Rüschen DHBW Heilbronn

It remains a niche, especially in terms of the food industry, because at the end of the day, “small” means small spaces, so it is difficult to represent the assortments, the variety of needs that customers have. Yes, there is a need for people who no longer want to drive around, not even to greenfield sites. But that will be handled by deliveries and not so much by the small stores. Yes, the small stores will emerge the there will be more discounters in the city centre. But in the sense of “the next big thing”? No.

In view of the constantly growing assortments, especially in the food industry, the only way today is data management. You can only make decisions and understand the success/failure of a product with data. Only with data can we also reduce food waste. And the topic of customer cards or loyalty programs is another crucial driver for more intensive data use.

I believe that sustainability and digitalisation are the two major trends that will affect retail in the coming years and perhaps even decades. From the customer side, the demands on retailers for sustainability will continue to increase, even if customers often do more talking than acting – this is the so-called attitude-behaviour gap. But sustainable is not the new profitable. It is definitely a must in order to survive. Those who don’t do it at all will eventually cease to exist. But still: consistent sustainability will put pressure on profits, be it through declining demand and/or through the investment that I simply have to make as a retailer.

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