We hear a lot about experiential retail, and about how it is essential to retailer success—but what exactly does “experiential” mean? On the keynote panel at ICSC Western States, held yesterday at the Los Angeles Convention Center, retail experts talked about the future of retail, outlining convenience, technology and an omnichannel platform as being integral to a successful retail experience. The panel was moderated by Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC, and included Melina Cordero, global head of retail research at CBRE; Carolyn Fields, VP of Big Red Rooster; Nathalie Walton, global head of local shopping at Google; and JP Suarez, EVP at Walmart US Realty Division.

Convenience is the cornerstone of the model. Cordero opened the conversation by declaring that line will be completed eliminated—possibly in as little as five years. That means no waiting in line to check out or for help. “Technology and consumer experience is going to get rid of the line. I don’t think it will exist in the future,” she said on the panel. The panelists fervently agreed, adding that technology will only aid in creating convenience for consumers, from integrating voice activated and AI technology to creating transparency in consumer inventory. “My outlook is that experience is going to drive retail,” added Suarez. “That is going to be what differentiates retailers. I think convenience is a big part of that, you can’t have a line, needs to be easy.”

Technology helps to create convenience, but it does so much more, particularly for a retailer’s backend. Google has retail technology available that can manage inventory, making it more easily accessible to consumers. “I think retailers will update their backend technology so that they can create a true omnichannel experience and the inventory is more accessible to the consumer,” said Walton. Google is currently leveraging technology to bring consumers to the goods that they need and want. For example, if you are driving home and need to pick up an essential, Google Assistant can help you find a nearby store and check the store’s inventory to make sure they have the item in stock. “Google is connecting users to the products that they need,” added Walton. “I am trying to make sure that retailers are on Google so that we can connect the dots when a user does need something.”

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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