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North America, 2019

The weakening or collapse of traditional supermarket strengths was possibly the most chilling finding from Surviving the Brave New World of Food Retailing, a 2017 report from the Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council of North America. Thanks to the challenge of digital commerce and changing customer shopping patterns, it’s clear that even location is no longer an insurmountable competitive edge.

In follow-up to that report, the council conducted a study to dive deeper into the changing retail landscape and begin to chart a path forward for food retailers. The Store of the Future: An Exploration and Planning Guide examines the ways the digital world is blending with the traditional world and emerging technologies are reshaping the shopping experience.

Although the report doesn’t offer one specific path forward, it outlines many ways traditional retailers could employ artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality and even robotics to enhance the shopper experience. Like all council reports — designed by retailers for use by other retailers — this new study should serve as a catalyst for discussion and action.

One thing is certain: the future is going to look very different than the past. Now is the time for retailers to take a close look at where shopping is headed and talk seriously about how to adapt.