The Future of Outdoor Retail

At this year´s "Retail’s BIG Show“ in New York City, Sir Richard Branson talked about his own successes and failures in sales, and also imparted his view about the future of retail. At the end of his speech he made sure to drive home his main point: retailers mustn´t miss the opportunity to become an entrepreneur instead of stagnating as “retail space operators.”  

This year´s OutDoor also provides ample opportunity to reflect on the future of retail in the outdoor sector. Is there a significant digital change and how does it manifest in the field? In an international perspective, Germany is way behind considering digital infrastructure and the flexibilities in managing innovations. In Germany, this is mainly a cultural problem. Change is most of the time greeted with scepticism, and to initiate a change is even more difficult – the fear of failure is deeply rooted in German business culture.  

So those new business innovations that Sir Richard Branson talked about – what shapes could they take? How could those new ideas generate target groups and achieve success in a competitive market?  

First of all, it takes the attention and openness of the decision-makers who understand change to be the precondition of a prosperous future. This goes for retail as well. To depart from the old trodden path always poses a challenge, but necessary to pave the way for future developments. Outdoor retailers have a promising starting point to be successful, since at the core of their brand identities lies an important value: personal freedom and the individual experience of nature. The freedom to express oneself is the motor for the new generation – and that motor keeps on running. Where Baby Boomers were still hesitant for fear of failure, the new generation already moves ahead, driven by sheer optimism.  

Retail experts who address this personal freedom and live by it are as essential to the new generation as is the use of technological innovations. Ideas such as Smart Retail are, thus, the necessary measures that lead to future developments. To be successful, you need to integrate the cultures and the values into your business. If you fail to do so, the customers will stay with you.