But despite all the uncertainty and volatility of retail in a post-pandemic, post-digital world, there are some fundamental realities.
Retail has been around a long time. Over two thousand years ago Via Stabia, a street in Pompeii, was lined with shops selling pots and pans, cushions, textiles, bread, wine, fast food; things people wanted, as well as things they needed. Vesuvius put a stop to that trade. More than two thousand years later the latest disruptions to retail are no less volcanic.
However, in several important respects the relationship between buyer and seller remains the same.
The profound social, economic, and technological shifts brought on by the pandemic will remain, consumers are shopping online more than ever before, and finding new ways to do it. Yet shopping is still a negotiation between buyer and seller. At one level, of course, it’s a commercial transaction, governed by the rules of contract law. But it’s also an emotional exchange, and a sale is a moment of connection between buyer and seller; an expression of the relationship between customer and brand.
And that’s a relationship we understand very well.
What follows are eight short papers on different aspects of that relationship. Now is the time for retailers to connect with their customers in new and engaging ways, and to build on some fundamentals of human nature.
One of which is something the last eighteen months have made clearer than ever: people love to shop.
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