An earlier blog, "The next era of retail disruption: Experience," addressed how every 50 years or so the retailing landscape is drastically transformed. With each change, retailing is redefined in order to meet consumer expectations. Today, consumers expect an experience, and are willing to pay more for it.
But, although the latest disruption in retail is here, change doesn't happen overnight. It often happens slowly, until a major catalyst emerges.
For instance, the catalyst for the spread of big discount chains in the 1960s and 1970s was Sam Walton, founder of Walmart. He opened the first Walmart in 1962, despite competitors thinking his idea of building a successful business around offering lower prices and great service would never work. But, he was set on addressing consumer expectations at the time — lower prices and better service. Soon after, other big discount chains quickly expanded by following the same business model that the Walmart success was built on. They had to follow, in order to compete.
So, what's the catalyst for the latest disruption of retail we are seeing, the experience?
It's the same premise as 50, 100, 150 years ago — the catalyst comes from those who are willing to be innovative and lead the way into the next era of retail. And from there, others will follow.
Let's take a look at McDonald's. McDonald's has set the bar for not only the fast food industry, but for retailers alike. They are providing their consumers with an experience by utilizing new technologies, processes and strategies designed to address the changing marketplace of consumer demands and needs.
McDonald's use of digital is expanding. In some countries static menu boards have been replaced by digital menu boards, while in others the brand's McCafe offerings have been promoted on digital menu boards. The brand also has begun integrating custom-made "Create Your Taste" self-order digital signage kiosks; a build-your-own-burger offering based on touchscreen technology.
McDonald's understood that rising consumer expectations meant demands for more choices and more control. By introducing the digital technology, McDonald's has provided consumers with the ability to control their own experience. Plus, McDonald's is re-connecting with the younger generations who have grown up surrounded by digital technologies.
McDonald's now has a strong foundation in technology, which will only continue to advance and grow. And so the rat race continues, eventually leaving behind those big name brands who decide not to embrace this next era of retail disruption, experience.
Is McDonald's the catalyst for disruption in the fast food and retail industries alike? Well, the latest disruption in retail is here, and innovative companies such as McDonald's sure are paving the way.
/ Emily Carroll is the Marketing Manager of Prendi Pty Ltd. Prendi is a full-service digital solutions provider, specialising in the integration of a wide range of technologies, content and interactivity into physical environments.