There’s a bright future in retail, with less retail in it


The perception of retail has fundamentally changed. Years of negative headlines announcing the retail apocalypse did not lead to retailers’ death – but to a chance of “reframing“. Instead of simply supplying huge amounts of products, retailers need to reevaluate which greater purpose they can serve.

A reframed retail purpose will help to fulfill consumers’ expectations and meet their perception of retail today.




In collaboration with the Swedish startup for beauty treatments called “Dashl” H&M is piloting a combined retaill store which offers beauty sessions. Customers can get a beauty treatment in several H&M stores.

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We strongly sense that our customers, who used to rely on retailers, are now making tremendous efforts to establish direct contact with the customer by means of a direct-to-consumer business model.

Alien Wolter

ARNO Group

The strongest weapon of brick-and-mortar is the personal experience. Online retail will never be able to imitate this in the same way. We may be able to offer very good service and make personalized suggestions online, but the personal connection in-store is fueled by additional moments of discovery.

More focus is being placed on entertainment and advice. Customers want to be amused. Experiencing products in a playful way is therefore very sustainable and can be a real USP. The actual in-store transaction, on the other hand, is relegated to the background in the store. It may take place there, but according to an omnichannel approach, it does not have to.

Dirk Bachmann

Deutsche Telekom

If retailers want to be attractive, they must offer more than products. Going forward, the focus shift from pure trading to more service-oriented retailing. This opens up an opportunity for new formats. Retailers can launch showrooms, be a workshop, a service point or a social meeting place. They can host events or rent out space for pop-ups. A wide array of exciting formats exists, but they all involve a lot of work and a lot of interaction. Retailers need to be prepared for this.

Angela Krause

Deutscher Ladenbauverband

Unfortunately, retail has many concepts that cannot even answer what their raison d’être is. On the other hand, the future will not be less, but rather more than a clear commitment that retail must get more quality and more proximity and personality. Personal consultations will of course continue to take place physically. The retailers must understand what their function is now and in the future, and how this can be managed. We also have to get away from this division of functions in cities, i.e. the mixing of living and working. I like to talk about the “biodiversity of cities“.

Markus Schwitzke

Schwitzke ID

Unique retail concepts are the ones that will remain relevant in the future and that will continue to revitalise retail and city centres. What will not work are retail concepts that stand still, that do not change with the time and declare “we have always done it this way”. In one year, we will see who has drawn conclusions from this time and has consequently changed their internal processes. Commodity products that are bought regularly will of course be ordered online at some point. Going to a store for that is more perceived as a burden than a necessity.

Tobias Conrad

Deutsche Telekom

Retailers need to grow a bit more beyond what they have seen as their role so far. This is exactly where retail has a lot of opportunities to learn from smaller, creative retailers. For example, how to build a community in the digital space and extend it into the real space through new concepts beyond the classic retail activity

Aziza Freutel


Let’s take the pharmacy as an example: I assume that within 5 years only 40 % of the transactions will happen in-store. The launch of the e-prescription in 2022, will fuel this development within the German market. The trend shows, that the pharmacy will become the place for primary care within the overall health system. Many countries are already following this approach and had good experiences with it. The path is paved for high-quality person-to-person premium contacts.

Dirk Bockelmann


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