Retail’s Crystal Ball: 3 Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s Stores

By Paul Brenner, SVP of Retail Media and Partnerships at Vibenomics

The retail industry has faced no shortage of upheaval in recent years, with U.S. e-commerce sales reaching over $1 trillion for the first time in 2022. This massive shift reflects consumers prioritizing online convenience and technological advancements, forcing retailers to adjust their brick-and-mortar strategies to integrate online experiences with in-store shopping.

Despite the rise of e-commerce, in-store foot traffic remains higher than online shopping traffic. More than 2 in 5 adults and nearly 40% of Gen Z adults prefer in-store shopping to online. While consumers continue to seek cutting-edge technology across channels, prioritizing experiences exclusive to the physical realm gives retailers a significant advantage in drawing more customers to their brick-and-mortar establishments.

With major retail revolutions and system overhauls on the horizon, 2024 will be a year of embracing innovation — especially in-store digitization and advancements in tech — to meet the needs of today’s highly engaged consumer. Brands embracing these shifts will win big.

In-store advertising’s major comeback

As linear TV viewership declines and audiences disperse across channels, advertisers are turning to in-store advertising for its effectiveness in directly engaging consumers at the point of purchase. Retailers are driving this resurgence by recognizing the value of creating targeted, immersive experiences aligned with evolving consumer preferences that capture attention in a crowded media landscape.

In-store advertising establishes a tangible and immediate connection with shoppers, utilizing physical spaces to personalize ads based on location, time of day and shopper demographics. This contextual relevance allows brands to convey messages, influence purchasing decisions and enhance visibility.

Retail Media Networks (RMNs), a key player in this resurgence, enable brands to access a broader, more targeted consumer base. RMNs facilitate selling ad space on retailers’ digital channels, including websites, apps and email lists, allowing brands to engage with their target audiences at the crucial point of purchase. For instance, top retailers can reach over 100 million unique in-store shoppers monthly, presenting a captive audience ready for engagement.

Moreover, in-store advertising provides unique performance metrics, connecting ads directly to sales data and measuring product lift and basket size impact. This emphasis on measurable ROI, combined with the broad reach and contextual relevance of RMNs, positions in-store advertising as an essential component in future marketing strategies, complementing the decline of traditional channels.

RMNs will lead the ”Always On” revolution

RMNs are at the forefront of the next phase of programmatic advertising. The key to their prominence is their utilization of first-party shopper data, which offers unmatched insights to consumers, enabling brands to create highly targeted, personalized ads.

These networks will also lead the charge in establishing “always on” retail media  — an uninterrupted advertising approach via digital channels such as social media, email marketing and in-store audio. This concept involves maintaining a constant omnichannel brand presence — from social media to in-store — to provide a cohesive experience.

For instance, RMNs might target social media followers with advertisements featuring products they recently viewed online. Subsequently, upon entering a physical store, contextual audio ads remind customers of their online interests. Consumers receive a post-purchase email containing suggestions for related products and services. This continuous strategy keeps brands top of mind by delivering value through relevance and utility.

RMNs will adopt cutting-edge programmatic solutions to enhance the shopper experience.

Features like automated creative optimization and dynamic product feeds enable advertisements to adjust dynamically based on real-time shopper behavior for more meaningful connections between brands and audiences.

Powered by RMNs, the always-on revolution will reshape programmatic advertising by making it more seamless, useful and engaging.

The shift toward standardized in-store technology

There’s currently an immense need for unified in-store systems. The market is fragmented as retailers rely on a patchwork of disconnected technologies from various vendors to manage different in-store operations. This approach creates inefficiencies, compatibility issues and missed opportunities for seamless and integrated shopping experiences.

This trend will change as providers shift to open, standardized platforms. Standardization offers simplicity, scalability, and seamless integration between solutions. For retailers, one centralized hub can power everything from inventory to promotions.

While establishing a standardized technology infrastructure, businesses will continue innovating through digital experiments to enhance the in-store experience for shoppers and advertisers. New technologies contributing to increased engagement and sales will undergo refinement through rigorous testing and iterative processes. Retailers may test how digital shelving impacts shopper product selection and satisfaction. Or stores may experiment with new shopper tracking tools for better advertising insights.

By balancing standardization with focused innovation, retailers and providers can cultivate an ideal, mutually beneficial ecosystem where:

  • Providers prosper through scaled, simplified platforms.
  • Retailers reduce complexity while creating next-gen shopping experiences.
  • Advertisers access cutting-edge retail media opportunities.

Ultimately, the shift toward unified in-store tech will be a win-win-win for all industry stakeholders. Savvy retailers will follow the lead of these key predictions to satisfy demands for omnichannel personalization and innovative in-store experiences.

About the Author

With more than 25 years of experience in media & entertainment and advertising technology leadership, Paul Brenner served in several c-suite roles including division President with Emmis Operating Company [NASDAQ:EMMS]. As President of NextRadio/TagStation his work focused on global innovation through FM Chip activations in all smartphones for audience measurement, improved in-car user experiences, and data attribution platforms for all broadcast radio. In 2019, Paul joined Vibenomics as Chief Strategy Officer to help develop the go-to-market strategy for the company’s first-to-market Audio In-Store advertising solution. Following a successful launch, Brenner was promoted to President of Audio OOH to oversee all efforts surrounding revenue-generating activity and related partnerships. After the company’s recent integration with Mood Media, Paul was promoted to SVP of Retail Media and Partnerships, where he works to evangelize and innovate the In-Store segment of Retail Media.