“You can never plan the future by the past” – Edmund Burke

It is interesting to see Amazon opening a physical retail shop, with others, including Twitter and Facebook to follow suit. Soon the mashing and blurring of the classic retail definition and structures we grew up with will be a thing of the past.

What will be the definition of retailing as manufacturers become retailers and social media channels become retailers? Databases will be become one of the most valuable assets a retailer will possess, far greater in value than inventory or intellectual property.

Brand will grow in influence, simply passing product through branded gateway, be it physical or virtual, with all gateways operating simultaneously the norm. We will stop talking about the relative channels, instead the omni-potent collaboration of the channels into one.

Is putting a product online and selling it to the traditionalist or purist an example of classic retailing? This no longer matters, as cutting through the noise with the most effective branded gateway is fast becoming a definition of retail.

What does it mean if you or I can buy product through social media channels as easily as online or shops? Essentially, connected and fluid are the keys to succeeding in this environment.

Each channel will be maximised as one wheel in the spoke, physical shops will be asked to dial up the experience to be the jewel and dominate the majority of actual spend, however, in concert with all other channels.

We are in the growth stage, with the next phase to move from omni-channel, to the brand and its offer.

How it gets to the customer will be for the customer increasingly to decide.

First published to Inside Retail October 2014