Retail Evolution – Adapting to Consumer Time Constraints

The evolving landscape of retail shopping, both in physical stores and online platforms, is heavily influenced by the scarcity of consumer time. Gone are the days when shopping was a leisurely pursuit; today, time is a precious commodity, driving individuals to seek more meaningful experiences and social engagements, prioritising activities such as family outings, outdoor adventures, and hobbies. This shift is particularly pronounced in non-grocery retail sectors, as highlighted in a recent survey conducted by GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in 2023 (Going shopping is dead: How to restore Meaning and Fun in Retail). The convenience of online shopping has become increasingly attractive, with consumers opting to shop during commutes or from the comfort of their homes. Consequently, online retail sales have significantly increased, tripling from CHF 4.7 billion to CHF 15.1 billion between 2008 and 2022, as reported by

Across all age groups, there is a shared desire to minimise time spent on shopping activities, except among the 16-24 age bracket, who prefer extended shopping experiences. However, when consumers engage in shopping, they seek experiences that are meaningful, experiential, and enjoyable. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this presents an added challenge for retail companies, prompting a revaluation of their omnichannel strategies and investments in artificial intelligence capabilities.

To effectively navigate the constraints of time scarcity and deliver engaging experiences throughout the customer journey, retail businesses must prioritise three key elements: efficiency, experiential engagement, and entertainment value

Efficiency: Streamlining product selection processes is essential, providing consumers with easily digestible information and pricing details in a visually appealing format. Lengthy product descriptions can be replaced with concise key figures accompanied by immersive 3D visuals and animations, offering consumers a comprehensive understanding of product features while minimising time investment.

Experiential Engagement: Consumers can be engaged in positive, interactive, fun, and engaging topics important for the brand to convey its message, such as enabling virtual try-ons of watches or customisation of its strap/bracelet to discover a best-fit watch. Another example is what Lean Cuisine did in New York Central Station, where they encouraged women to weigh in based on measurements that mattered to them the most rather than a pure weighing scale. Similarly, the Oreo brand created flavour-based cookies based on trending topics on Twitter, combining favourite brand flavours with technology.

Entertainment Value: Retailers can foster greater confidence and support in purchasing decisions by enabling consumers to visualise products in real-world settings and share virtual try-on experiences with their social circles. Additionally, facilitating product comparisons against similar offerings through intuitive interfaces and standardised attributes is critical for empowering consumers to make informed choices.

Consumers’ evolving preferences and behaviours underscore retail businesses that need to adapt and innovate in response to time scarcity. Failure to address these changing dynamics risks relegating products to obscurity amidst a crowded marketplace. Therefore, proactive measures such as revamping e-commerce platforms and embracing emerging technologies are essential to remain competitive and resonate with modern consumers. Embracing this paradigm shift in shopping habits is not merely a choice but a necessity for sustained relevance and success in the retail industry.

P-XR AG enables companies to build 3D product visualisation with animation and annotations. Virtual try-ons, Virtual Stores and Instore 3D holographs that consider gamification techniques are further solutions offered by P-XR AG. Contact us for more information.