A new report has shed light on the radically different shape of the retail sector in two decades’ time.

The year is 2040. Physical retail stores will be a critical part of the shopping journey in terms of brand engagement and purchase execution, though their functions will have evolved, according to the latest report from Euromonitor, titled Commerce 2040: Revolutionary Tech Will Boost Consumer Engagement.

The report predicts that technology, such as wearables and voice, will guide customers through the store, products will automatically be added to a virtual shopping cart upon selection, and robots will be leveraged for customer service and inventory management.

Digital commerce will lead to a redesign of storefronts and delivery with some stores creating separate entrances for picking up online orders. Retailers will be also able to send more contextual alerts to notify of new pricing, products or experiences to a consumer’s individual wearable or voice platform.

Facial scanning will identify consumers upon entry to the store to enable a more tailored experience and payment will be automatically made upon exit.

“Purchases in the past were transactional. Now shopping is a journey about relationship building. The ideal journey provides value before, during and after the purchase,” the report says.

“Brands are expected to create experiences tailored to consumers’ individual stories and communicate in a way that works best for them, whether by phone, e-mail, social networks or chat apps… Brands can add value and drive higher unit prices by offering a unique experience to their customers.”

This article was republished with permission from Appliance Retailer.