The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show

March 2–4, 2025 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show
March 2—4 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

The retail landscape has changed drastically over the past decade. So much so that it’s hard to believe that we’re on the cusp of yet another monumental metamorphosis. We speak to Nikolai Gruschwitz about retail stores of the future.

by Michelle Hespe


Retail Playgrounds


Retail stores these days are like playgrounds for adults – filled with entertainment, events, interactive displays, chill-out zones, VR and AR and whatever else a retailer can dream up to keep their customers engaged and eventually, loyal. But what does a retailer need to do in order to be at the forefront of the next retail revolution? What does the retail store of the future look like?


“The store of the future should be a store which is highly interactive with different digital tools for customization, and the gamification of products is also important,” explains Nikolai.


Nikolai Gruschwitz


For those not up to speed with gamification, it’s the application of typical elements of game playing (for example point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity. Gamification is typically used as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.


“Stores of the future should also have an outstanding atmosphere, with design and décor created to evoke emotional responses, and, as always, very well-trained, service-oriented staff,” Nikolai says. “These days, many store owners hire staff for the personal skills, not just their retail experience, as people need that human touch. More so than ever today, as so much of our lives are lived online.”


Get Emotionally Involved and Strip Things Back


Nikolai believes that in the future there will be no place for non-emotional stores. “Bricks and mortar retail stores need some advantages over e-commerce as so many people now make their purchases online,” he says. “The big advantage that retailers have is the emotional aspect of shopping and the face-to-face consulting and interaction with staff. The important thing about retailing in the future is the emotional connection that people feel when in your store. How good they feel being there is the important factor.”


Nikolai also points out that retailers no longer need to stock thousands of products and have them on the biggest shelves in town. Strip things back and leave more room for your messages – your branding. “All you need today is a big warehouse and same-day delivery,” he says. “You no longer need to have every color of every product that a customer can buy, as they can see and test the product and then choose it in another color and order it online.”


Educate, Embrace Tech & Get Social


Despite some people assuming that robots will be replacing humans in retail, Nikolai says that face–to–face dealings will always have a place in the new world, but that education is key. “If people come into a store they don’t want to use a tablet or screen to talk or chat with store assistants,” he says. “The reason they chose to come into a store is to see the products in real life, and to get information straight from a store’s staff. However, as a retailer, do keep in mind that the clients come to you very well prepared, and they will have very specific questions because they can find a lot of the information that they need on their smartphone. This is why store assistants have to be prepared and well-trained. They have to know more than the customer.”



Augmented Reality burst on to the stage years ago, but many businesses are now turning to it to help create exceptional experiences in retail stores. Once considered highly technical and so not accessible to the masses, today there are ways that retailers can implement AR without too much hassle and without breaking the bank.


“We have developed AR cases for different brands such as WMF and Rosenthal. Our experience has shown that this technology is necessary for some industries, but some others should think twice before implementing anything AR related because it can be very difficult to keep up the maintenance. For a successful AR case you need high-end visualizations of 3D objects you are promoting, and if the quality is not great, then the user will not be happy with the tool,” he explains.



Nikolai and his team always insist that their clients have a social media presence, and this will only continue to explode in popularity. “We recommend creating a multi-channel concept for your marketing,” he says. “Get involved with different platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, WhatsApp Broadcasting etc. and decide what is best for your specific business and clients, and which platform performs the best.


“When it comes to daily usage, and percentage of time by a particular user, Instagram and smaller platforms like Snapchat are rated higher,” says Nikolai. “Instagram shopping is growing rapidly and many successful start-ups and gadget companies announce their products and commercials on social, prioritizing Instagram. I think Instagram will continue to develop and be a part of retail stores of the future.”


Finally, Nikolai considers the size of retail outlets, and big is not always better. In fact, he believes that stores of the future will be smaller in order to lessen costs for retailers, and that as technology becomes less expensive, this also assists with the bottom line – profit. People will utilize technology to enhance a customer’s experience and to lessen monetary burden.



“Ultimately, people want to be happy,” says Nikolai. “So I’m quite sure retailing in the future will revolve more around socializing, as people will want to find an alternative to the e-commerce experience. People still want to be around people. But as with everything, only time will tell!”

Waketo will bring the future of face-to-face retailing to life during The Inspired Home Show 2020 in the new Smart Retail Experience. Attendees can join Nikolai and the team for interactive demonstrations of technologies that will reimagine the brick-and-mortar experience and delight your customers.