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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Feb. 12, 201905:10 AM EST

What’s next for retail as tech, customers evolve

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Walmart executive offers vision of what physical retail stores will be like in the future.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

In the future, the strategy of how businesses motivate people to choose one product or vendor over another will be based on how consumers prefer to shop rather than what they’re buying.

That’s the prediction from Walmart e-commerce executive Andrew Soohoo.

The senior vice president and general manager of the Home Group at Walmart eCommerce was the guest speaker last week at the Jacksonville University Davis College of Business Leadership Speaker Forum.

In the evolution of retail marketing, “the losers will be the ones that don’t understand the consumer,” Soohoo said.

After graduating from Harvard Business School with an MBA, Soohoo’s resume includes Apple, Yahoo and CBS Corp., where he was senior vice president of the Entertainment Division of CBS.com from 2007-11.

Soohoo joined the consumer goods market seven years ago when he became co-founder and CEO of Dot & Bo, an online furniture retailer aimed at the millennial market.

The business was inspired by inquiries from viewers who wanted to buy furnishings featured on the sets of CBS programs.

Soohoo joined Walmart in 2017 and is in charge of developing the company’s online furniture and home décor business.

He said that even with the advancement of technology from the telephone to radio and television, and then to personal computers, the internet and today’s mobile devices, what hasn’t changed as much is the customer.

“The majority of things consumers do are the things they’ve always done,” he said. “Technology allows us to do those things easier and faster.” 

He said people still want to rent movies and watch them at home, but the Blockbuster chain of neighborhood stores has been replaced by streaming video services.

Brick-and-mortar book retailers, like Borders, have been replaced by online shopping.

“It’s as much about the consumption experience as it is about product and price,” Soohoo said.

He doesn’t expect traditional stores will become extinct, but they will have a different role in the process of product selection and purchase.

“Physical retail and online will be combined. You’ll go to the store to see it, touch it and try it out, but then you’ll order it online for delivery,” he said.

Soohoo also said that with the U.S. retail market at about $5 trillion and the global market approaching $25 trillion, “there is massive opportunity in retail if you don’t play by the old rules.”

 

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