As we fall into autumn, the retail world has also taken a deep dive into several trending concepts. While we continue to see news of CBD climb higher on the retail ladder; and stores and restaurants continue to experiment with shifting formats—additional innovations are starting to emerge. Recently, major retailers are placing an emphasis on health, utilizing the technology of driverless vehicles, and integrating mobile applications into their formats to create seamless omnichannel experiences.
Healthcare is beginning to emerge as a true retail category as major nationals are making the services more convenient. Walmart has opened its first freestanding health clinic in Dallas, Georgia—an Atlanta suburb. The services included will include primary care, mental health, dental, hearing and optical care. Walmart officials say that health-related services might eventually include expanding into home healthcare services or mobile units offering specialty services. Innovators on all fronts, Apple and Amazon, are also banking on healthcare. Amazon just launched a virtual primary care clinic, called Amazon Care, the latest sign of the giant retailer's growing ambitions in healthcare—and there are rumors of a physical Seattle-based employee health clinic. Apple is one step ahead, with their AC Wellness employee clinics located near their California corporate offices.
Companies are bringing convenience elements to their audiences in other ways as well—such as driverless cars. Major Texas grocer, HEB, recently announced plans to launch an Autonomous Delivery Vehicle pilot program in San Antonio later this year. Further, the biggest big box—Walmart, launched a pilot program that will allow consumers to make their grocery pickups with the help of an autonomous vehicle. Riders will be able to take a driverless shuttle service to and from Walmart whenever they purchase groceries from the retailer’s website using the online grocery pickup service.
Finally, we have more of a reason to stare at our phones. Major retailers and restaurants are integrating mobile technology to make checkouts and purchases easier for customers. Southeast grocer Publix is the latest major grocery store to integrate mobile pay into their mobile app. The new payment method is being rolled out gradually and will allow customers to access their credit cards, debit cards, coupons and shopping lists on one interface. Another grocer, Giant Eagle, has partnered with a California start-up which will use technology to allow customers to enter stores, start shopping, and pay via mobile app when they’re done. And the trend is not just missing the mark with food operators—pizza favorite Domino’s will allow customers to track their orders via GPS tracking by the end of the year. The ability, available through the Domino’s app, will also benefit franchise operators by allowing them to make the delivery process more efficient.
Convenience is the overarching theme in the latest emerging trends—medicine is meeting the consumer where they are, and technology is making our lives simpler than ever. We’re looking forward to seeing what this means for the retail landscape as these changes take shape.