The store of the future must bring together the online and the offline, but above all it must be fun.

Asos boss Nick Robertson questioned the role the physical store will have for the next generation of shoppers at last week’s World Retail Congress.

He said the 10 year olds of tomorrow are ingrained in the digital world and its limitless shopping options and the “box experience” of bricks and mortar retail would therefore feel “strained”.Robertson is right.

Online stores do offer a boundaryless store with an unlimited amount of merchandise, increasingly personalized for you. With technology such as virtual fitting rooms available on some of these sites it does make one wonder whether there is a need to actually go into a physical store.

But I don’t think the store will die. However, the type of experience a store delivers will need to evolve.The store will need to entertain and to integrate the online and offline worlds. Google UK managing director Dan Cobley showed some  current examples of retailers and brands already doing that, from Adidas’ virtual shopping wall to Converse using technology to allowing shoppers to customise their trainers and virtually try them on. 

Both examples provide an-in store theatre and seem to pull in the crowds. We must not forget that shopping, especially for clothes, is still viewed as a social activity, so it’s up to retailers to make it fun.