The Oxford Institute of Retail Management (OXIRM) at University of Oxford, announced the launch of an 18 month study into the future of retail. Richard Cuthbertson, director, OXIRM, who is leading the research, said, "It is well known that factors such as rising retail costs, changing customer expectations, the need to rejuvenate and reshape our town centres, remodel out-of-town stores, and develop the many opportunities presented by online and mobile technologies, all mean that the clock is ticking for traditional stores. Many retail businesses are actively reconsidering their business models and particularly thinking about the relationship between digital and traditional activities."
He said that the institute has worked for more than 25 years in the vertical and the project will build upon that insight to chart the retail landscape and explore the challenges and opportunities facing retail organisations. The research will involve talking to individuals from all parts of the retail sector and with policy makers; review retail experience overseas as well as technology developments and shape and test possible scenarios for retailing in the years ahead. Cuthbertson believes that digital media will transform the retail experience, vastly enhancing communication of product and service information, creating opportunities for customisation, and providing more options for customers.
Such a radical reconfiguring of retail will present a series of new challenges to retailers, who must simultaneously address back office support and supply-chain issues to efficiently service these innovations and to exploit fully the opportunities of developing technology. The research will explore many aspects of this transition from advances in mobile technologies, consumer analytics and big data, the integration of new solutions with legacy systems, and the new security and privacy issues emerging as applications and data proliferate.
The scope of the study extends beyond technology alone and will take a broad view of retail change including the socio-economic implications such as new and varied employment opportunities and the reshaping of the traditional town centre. Sponsored by Intel, the research project will particularly focus on the relationship between digital and physical retailing as retailers look for the optimum approach to managing these two offerings.