The role of stores will change dramatically in the future, retailers at Retail Week Live said today.

Retailers including Oasis deputy managing director Hash Ladha and Tesco chief information officer Mike McNamara said stores will change fundamentally but that they will still be a central part of a retail business.

Rich Hoalst, general manager for digital commerce in Europe at Nike, said: “The only thing we know is there will be a massive shift. You need a connection to the consumer and what’s happening in the marketplace, so you can react to those things.”

Stores of the future will make more use of technology and Ladha said it will be impossible to stop customers showrooming, which involves researching a product in a store before buying it elsewhere online.

“You can’t stop it, it’s how we behave,” he said. “It’s better when you embrace the way people live rather than try to work against it. That’s where your brand will come into play - the strength of the bond you build with the consumer, why they’d choose you over others. Ultimately you can’t stop customers doing what they want on their own device in your stores.”

McNamara said Tesco is in the process of figuring out what technology works well in store. “We are just beginning to combine technologies find out what works best. For years we’ve wanted the tech to do this that or the other, and now the reality is it can do everything, it’s up to people to create things and take risks.”

The panel agreed click and collect will be a core part of store design in the future. McNamara said: “We’re beginning to design click and collect into the fabric of the store so it becomes like a McDonalds drive through. You’ve got to design multichannel stores from the ground up.”

Mike Duma, CTO at Shopow, said retailers with click and collect as a delivery option will increasingly edge ahead of purely online competitors: “Retailers who have the physical locations in most major towns will see more benefits as they offer click and collect.”

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