3 Thoughts on the State of Retail from AOL's Resident Futurist

How is the business of selling stuff going to change? Marketing asked "digital prophet" Shingy

Written by PROFIT Staff

Even by the buzzword-riddled standards of today’s technology and media industries, AOL’s David Shing—or “Shingy,” the online handle he’s more widely known by—has a rather unusual job title: digital prophet.

So when Marketing’s Shane Schick had the opportunity to talk to Shingy while he was in Toronto last week, they chose to turn his prognosticating powers to retail, an industry that’s seen plenty of digital disruption.

Here are three key insights from their conversation, which you should read in full here.

On the cycle of retail change

“We know there’s a delivery fulfillment beast that everyone’s afraid of. A lot of retailers are saying most of their sales are done at the counter. So why not think of that brick and mortar that you’ve already invested in as something that reflects that community, if that’s what the DNA of your brand is?

“Warby Parker is a good example: you go in and try a $99 pair of glasses on, but they have all these sofas in their SOHO store in New York and books on the wall. They encourage people to sit down and enjoy this living room space, and guess what? You might try reading glasses on at the same time. So there’s a direct and indirect way that this can work to your brand.”

On mobile

“What I’ve noticed is that retail is slow to really embrace mobile app development uniquely. What they’ve done is mobile-enable their ecommerce [site], and that’s probably not really that unique. There’s a missed opportunity there, which is, what could they do that’s really unique in terms of their active element? Part of that may be an inertia, which is to say, €˜Why would we want to lead?'”

On wearables

“It could be that it’s not as challenging as going from desktop to mobile. That jump felt like a massive chasm to most people, but if you put a computer on your wrist, it doesn’t necessarily feel like it competes with your phone. It’s additive. It comes back down to utility, doesn’t it? Could you put something on the wearable that does one thing? Maybe if you’re an oil-changing company, maybe you send an alert to someone every time they should change their oil.”


Do you agree with Shingy? Where do you think wearables and mobile fit into the future of retail? Let us know by commenting below.

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