2020 Global Retail Trends & Innovations Blog Series: Trend #1 Omni Integration

Welcome back to J.C. Williams Group’s Global Retail Trends and Innovations blog series where we celebrate global retail innovation, concepts, and trends! This series is based on our annual publication Global Retail Trends and Innovations, developed in partnership with our affiliate members from the Ebeltoft Group. Throughout the next few months, we will explore the hot four trends (Omni Integration, Extreme Convenience, Extreme Experience, and Sustainable Practices) showcased in Global Retail Trends and Innovations 2020 and gain insight into the underlying and emerging trends in modern retail.

Trend #1: Omni Integration

The rapid change in retail is being driven by new technologies and digital innovations that allow consumers to always be connected. They can shop, return, or share products anytime and anywhere at the touch of a button. Bricks and mortar and the online channel, otherwise known as “bricks and clicks,” are no longer separate entities, but complementary platforms that improve the retail experience. Customers no longer distinguish between the physical and digital worlds. An omni experience encompasses everything from online to off-line experiences. With click and collect, augmented reality assistants, endless aisle, lockers, and data-driven stores, omni experience dominates retail today.

This trend focuses on omnichannel, bricks and clicks, reduced friction, and tech integration.


IKEA has been testing a variety of new formats for several years, aiming to reside in city centers where rents are very high, but customers are wealthier. The new Paris Madeleine store is its latest and most impressive initiative.

Beyond the smaller format (one-third the size of typical French IKEA stores), this new format breaks traditional IKEA rules: no guided route in store, almost no self-service products, and no split between accessories and furniture. The customer journey is more assisted – in store and beyond – with services such as appointments with experts (e.g., interior designer, kitchen salesman), DIY workshops four times per week, and fast delivery and/ or installation assistance (with the start-up Task Rabbit).

More than an urban concept, this store is the sign of a deep shift in IKEA’s vision of its customers’ expectations with two new priorities: more support and more accessibility

Ebeltoft Group Expert Comment

IKEA Madeleine is adapted to urban customers’ expectations: inspiration, efficiency, service. The traditional IKEA route is not present, allowing customers to have more control about how long they spend in-store. IKEA has taken forward looking steps with sustainability, such as bike delivery, sofa recycling, and furniture renovation.

J.C. Williams Group Comment:

IKEA has also announced that it is opening a similar urban-format store in downtown Toronto. In addition, it has also been testing other smaller city-centre formats, such as a kitchen showroom in Stockholm, as well as a bedroom showroom and accessory space in Madrid.

Crisp, Netherlands

Crisp launched in late 2018 and is the first app-only fresh supermarket in The Netherlands. The concept is not intended to serve as a one-stop supermarket. Instead, Crisp focuses on fresh, high-quality foods and serves consumers who want to be able to find all their favorite artisan foods on one convenient platform. Crisp works with more than 200 small farmers, butchers, bakeries, fishmongers, and other local suppliers. The offering includes handmade sausage rolls from a local bakery, mussels from a well-known fishmonger, and fresh pasta from a factory run by an Italian family. Customers who order before 10 p.m. receive their order at home between 6-10 p.m. the next day for a small fee.

Crisp maintains personal relationships with its suppliers and ensures fair trade. Crisp shares information about its suppliers and how they produce their products, offering transparency to the customer.

The concept relies on the quality and freshness of its products. To ensure these benefits, Crisp collects products from local suppliers and delivers directly to the customer. This on-demand business model also eliminates the risk of stock loss.

Ebeltoft Group Expert Comment

Crisp is a unique concept that combines the quality and transparency of local food producers with the convenience of an online supermarket. Previously, these products were accessible to consumers only by stopping at local physical shops that often are closed after work hours. Crisp managed to build a platform where all these products are easily accessible. In addition, Crisp guarantees freshness by delivering directly from its local suppliers to the customer.

Creator, USA

Creator offers a better burger experience with robotic cooks and focuses on quality, instead of mass production. Rather than building robots for existing fast-food or fast-casual chains, Creator’s restaurant “democratizes” access to fresher, better-sourced cuisine.

The company states: “Creator uses robotics and technology to bring a new dining experience to guest with burgers made from scratch. Customers can customize based on preferences and see the creation process throughout. We’re not just making a robot that’s fast and cheap and cranks out food that we sell to other companies, we want to own this whole experience and grow it and deliver it.”

Creator is part of the rapid change in retail generated by new technologies. Its founders brought new robotic technologies into the food industry. With this new technology, they created a machine which can precisely and efficiently make burgers. This integration of technology into the concept of a fast-casual burger franchise made a distinctive and affordable burger possible.

Ebeltoft Group Expert Comment

Creator employs the use of robotic cooks in the burger production process. Its uniquely designed machine allows for the creation of a burger with minimal human involvement. Creator’s focus with the robot is to create high-quality burgers at lower cost. The process also allows consumers to customize their burgers, as well as watch its creation throughout the process.

J. C. Williams Group Final Word

This is just a small selection of case studies featured in 2020 Retail Trends and Innovation Publication, but it can already be seen that omni integration is crucial for brands of the future. The boundary between online and offline shopping is dissolving, and it is through this that these brands have made their success. As technologies such as robotics, in-store electronics, and big data collection improve, a frictionless shopping experience will become the new standard for retail.

To read about more Omni Integration concepts, download your free copy of our Global Retail Trends and Innovations 2020 HERE.


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