The seemingly unstoppable rise of e-commerce, sophisticated customer analytics, personalized sounds and smells, digital mannequins that “know” your clothing preferences, automated home delivery—these are just some of the elements that will shape the shopping experience in the coming years.

For a customer walking into a store in 2030, it will feel really integrated—meaning, affirmations from social media or friends and family who aren’t even near me will somehow be integrated into that store.

In 2030, shopping will feel incredibly personalised. It’ll feel like the sales associates in that store know me as well as a close friend or maybe as well as a personal stylist.

As soon as a customer go in, they [the store] will know exactly when the customer was there last and, therefore, what its replenishment needs would be. And all [the store] will do is a confirmation of, “Here’s what must be out at home. Should we just reorder it for you?” But that’s not the main reason the customer would go to the store, because the customer could do that of its mobile device. The reason the customer would go in is because the store would actually draw it in by saying, “New products, new brands, just for you, customised, personalised. Come have a look.”

There are companies out there that are personalising the sounds you hear in the store and the scents that you smell. They’re personalising what the associates know about you to help you find the right product more quickly. You’re going to see digital mannequins that quickly change what they’re wearing based on who you are and what you might be holding in your hand. You’ll see a lot more in-store experiences to help you engage with the product, touch and feel it, and get to know it. But when you go to buy the product, you might not just be grabbing it off the floor and walking out the door like you do today. It might be coming out of the back room, it might meet you in your car, or it might meet you at home.

Snippet from an article written by Praveen Adhi, Eric Hazan, Sajal Kohli & Kelsey Robinson for McKinsey, April 2021