Inside the high-tech retail store of the future

Part of our series on the future of small business in America

The future of retail?
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Retail stores are having an identity crisis. With foot traffic falling and customers flocking to online outlets like Amazon, many brick-and-mortar stores are looking for new ways to keep the physical shopping experience relevant. "Physical stores find themselves at a crossroads," says Doug Stephens, retail industry futurist and author of The Retail Revival. "The value they used to provide, to assemble in one place a selection of products easily shopped and taken home, that value isn't what it used to be 30 or 40 years ago."

If storefronts want to compete with their more convenient (and usually cheaper) online alternatives, they will have to offer unique and personalized experiences worth getting off the couch for. "My expectation will be to go to the store to learn about things, to be a participant in things, to try different products, to co-create, to customize, to personalize the things I'm buying," Stephens says. Here, a few predictions for how the retailers of tomorrow will keep us shopping.

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Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a writer and former deputy editor of The Week Digital. Originally from the American Midwest, she completed a degree in journalism at Indiana University Bloomington before relocating to New York City, where she pursued a career in media. After joining The Week as an intern in 2010, she served as the title’s audience development manager, senior editor and deputy editor, as well as a regular guest on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast. Her writing has featured in other publications including Popular Science, Fast Company, Fortune, and Self magazine, and she loves covering science and climate-related issues.