It is often said that retail structures keep changing and have done so for centuries. Online shopping increases sales, changes the face of commerce and brings in global customers to any location. Indeed, that is the case. Recently I’ve tried to think of sectors and retail structures where change has been different or even quite modest. Areas in which these universal observations might not apply. Areas where unique and traditional inspire.
The service sector keeps looking for solutions for mobile appointments, expanding customer base from different areas, information sharing, getting as many return customers as possible and, perhaps, even to purchase complementary products or services. Merchants look for new ideas for stores, chains and selections. Grocery and specialty traders also seek their own unique solutions.
Every summer I am excited and intrigued by this same phenomenon. It’s something that reportedly had its origins in Istanbul in 1455: marketplaces. The birth of the specialty goods trade. That one and only original pop-up store, the local market stall.
The structure of the traditional market square is a simplification of the entire global commerce sector. An efficient delivery chain. Short delivery distances. The best products. Knowledgeable staff. Perfect understanding of customers. An outstanding service attitude. And customers always return if the product and service are good. All this happens without any mobile devices. No large investments in IT systems.
All the same, could there be some digital element that could attract more customers to the market? Or is the most fundamental notion of the market the idea that the customer looks for the best selection and nothing more? I’m a conservative approaching middle age, so my perspective is perhaps predictable.
I believe that the value of this kind of traditional service evolves in direct proportion to the increase in generalised global services in other areas – those impersonal yet easily available inexpensive products and services. What will the next set of changes be that cannot be globalised and whose value will remain just as they have for centuries?
A regular feature of my holiday routine involves visiting as many perfect market cafés and traditional pop-up stores as I can during the Finnish summer. I am passing this tradition on to my own children. Happy summer to you all!