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Despite some experts' predictions of decreased relevance for brick-and-mortar retailers, the physical store is becoming an important aspect of retail again. However, with the rise of online shopping and e-commerce, traditional brick-and-mortar locations must adapt to remain competitive. The retail stores of the future will need to be more than just a place to buy products ─ they will also need to provide a unique customer experience that can't be replicated online.

One of the biggest changes we can expect to see in brick-and-mortar retailers is the integration of technology. Stores will incorporate a range of digital features, from augmented reality displays that allow customers to virtually try on clothes and accessories to smart shelves that keep track of inventory levels and alert staff when items need restocking. Personalization will also become a key focus, with stores using data analytics to tailor the shopping experience to each customer's preferences and purchasing history.

Another important trend physical retail stores must focus on is sustainability. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their shopping habits and are demanding more eco-friendly options. Because of this, physical retailers will need to adopt more sustainable practices and invest in environmentally friendly methods of doing business, such as using renewable energy sources and reducing waste. Stores should also be more transparent about their supply chains and the environmental impact of the products they sell.

Another step retailers can take to meet these sustainability goals is entering recommerce markets, which help reduce the amounts of unused products by feeding them back into the business cycle and reselling them. Retailers can also take another more creative approach toward becoming more sustainable by using charging stations for electric cars in their parking lots and combining charging times with customer rewards programs. This can increase customer loyalty and create an enhanced user experience, all while helping the environment.

One of the most exciting developments in the future of retail is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. These technologies can enable stores to offer customers personalized recommendations and assist with product selection while also streamlining operations and reducing costs. For example, robots may be used to assist with tasks such as scanning and restocking shelves, freeing up time for staff so they can focus on providing a better customer experience.

The future retail store will also focus more on convenience. With the rise of same-day delivery and curbside pickup, customers expect a seamless shopping experience that is convenient and hassle-free. Retailers will need to invest in technologies that enable them to offer a true omnichannel experience across all distribution channels, one that is backed by an optimized and resilient supply chain.

In conclusion, brick-and-mortar retail stores of the future will be quite different from what we are used to today. Stores will be more technological, sustainable, experiential, and personalized. AI and robotics will play a crucial role in streamlining operations and improving the customer experience, while sustainability will become a key focus for retailers. With these changes, the retail store of the future can remain competitive and provide a unique and engaging in-person experience.

Learn more about how SAP solutions have brought the vision of the physical retail store back to life by virtually exploring the S.MART intelligence store at SAP Experience Center Walldorf, the S.FASHION experience lab at SAP Experience Center New York, or by contacting a representative for a personal live demonstration.