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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.”

Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Borland is a freelance writer and editor living whose work has appeared in such publications as Travel + Leisure, Angeleno and Riviera Orange County.

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