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With the 2019 ICSC Deal Making Conference approaching, I’m left to reflect on last year’s event and reminisce on some of the trends the industry researchers shared. As I attend this year, I look forward to contrasting some of the consumer experiences discussed and connect construction tie-ins along the way.

My guess is that one constant theme will remain— the convergence of in-person and digital equally shaping retail brands. The brick and mortar model is still very relevant, but it needs to accommodate the digital customer as well—in an all-inclusive way so the product/service is compatible in both settings. When success in a physical store environment is tied to online channels thriving, there are grounds to curb behavior and guide traffic both in-store and online.

I recall speakers expanding on how the e-commerce spectrum appears from a macro level, and how online grocery represents the smallest share of activity. I have a suspicion that this has significantly grown within the last year due to the millennial generation’s large population coupled with their constant search for convenience.

When optimization is concerned in the online shopping experience, an interesting fact was shared that the last mile of shipping transit represents 50% or more of total parcel delivery costs. This is a reality I’ve heard brought up several times since learning of it at last year’s event. This is one of the main challenges that large-scale retailers see, and continuously work toward optimizing by growing increasingly closer geographically to their consumer. With the vast cost pool presented from analytics around “the economics of the last mile,” the technology of additive manufacturing is a potential solution in the future as the concept is perfected.

This was my favorite conceptual take-away from last year’s event. Within a transaction driven by additive manufacturing, a buyer would purchase a data file of a product and be able to print the goods at home on a 3D printer. With the need for goods being available this readily without leaving home, in-store retail becomes a much more arts and entertainment focused experience with non-traditional tenants (cooking classes, brand immersion events, etc.) Although we’re not quite at this level of advancement yet, I’m interested to learn steps that have been taken in this direction.

The key to retail success is an omni-channel model with multiple consumer points of contact. This involves single channel, multi-channel, and cross-channel (integrating a brand through multiple touch points and understanding the best way to do so through data). To visualize a Venn diagram with minimizing fulfillment and maximizing customer satisfaction coming together would paint the picture of a center-point that modern retail must stay at to compete.

With store aesthetics and function in mind, the Old Forge team looks forward to hearing what this year’s speakers have to offer. ICSC has never disappointed me, and we’re sure this year’s deal making event will be no different. As our team looks to grow ties with all kinds of retail construction project participants, we’re excited to exhibit at booth 211. Please send us a message if you’ll be attending – we’d love to grab a coffee together.