Six themes shaping the future of retail and consumer goods

The future of retail is no longer in the future – the future of retail is now.

22 February 2024

Winning in today’s retail and consumer goods industry can be summarised by the following: excelling with your people, processes and technology. Inspired by the world’s largest retail conference NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show, we have identified six themes that will shape the future of retail. 

The retail and consumer goods industry is undergoing rapid and profound transformation, driven by changing consumer preferences, technological innovation and global forces shaping the industry. At Implement, we want to stay at the forefront of industry developments. Therefore, we recently attended the world’s largest retail conference in New York – NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show

Conversational AI is retail's game-changer in 2024 and beyond

To no one’s surprise, the topic of conversational AI was taking most of the spotlight. Numerous keynotes and on-stage conversations held by industry front-runners and senior executives highlighted some of the key challenges that the world’s leading retailers and brands are facing. 

Generative AI has the potential to transform the retail and consumer goods industry in many ways. By creating new content based on data and models, it has the potential to enhance product innovation and build personalisation, optimise pricing and promotions, improve customer engagement and loyalty and reduce costs and waste. The success of it depends on how you choose to apply it in your company. 

Retail employees and brands typically interact with around 12 tools and systems throughout the day. This may sound like a lot, but when you think about the number of tools and systems you interact with throughout the day, doesn’t it sound about right? 

With AI, we expect to see a continued high rate of new tools, but adding generative AI as a 13th tool to your portfolio is not necessarily the solution to working smarter. Instead, think about how you can implement AI tools horizontally across the organisation – across teams, departments and functional areas. As with many other things, AI should be tied closely to your business strategy and connected to your business goals to support the direction of your company. 

From its breakout year in 2023, we believe 2024 will be the year of adoption, testing and experimenting. We expect that the longer you wait to experiment with AI, the higher the risk of falling behind. Start small but act fast. Start by isolating small data sources that you trust and use them to acquire new learning to improve your business – remember that data quality does not have to be perfect to start experimenting.

Six themes shaping the future of retail and consumer goods:

Navigating the urgent shifts in retail landscape and consumer expectations

The conversations were not focused exclusively on AI but also on customers and consumers, pricing and channel strategies. 

Based on a survey distributed to our clients, we see that these “traditional” aspects remain top of mind for retailers and consumer goods companies. While we are busy discussing how to implement AI into daily business operations (which is crucial!), another major threat is just around the corner. The future of retail is no longer in the future – the future of retail is now. 

The retail market is still growing and is expected to reach USD 8.9 trillion by 2028, from a USD 6.8 trillion market in 2022. It is highly important that companies do not ignore the urgency of the changes we are seeing in the industry. 

In the past, companies were able to differentiate themselves on parameters such as low prices, a good customer experience or a sustainable business profile. However, the new generation of consumers demands more, and if you do not live up to customer expectations, you can expect that a competitor will. Knowing that over 50 per cent of customers will switch to a competitor after a single unsatisfactory customer experience, can your business afford not to be at the forefront? 

Six themes that will shape the future of the industry

To help our clients navigate this complex and dynamic landscape, we have identified six themes that will shape the future of the industry and the implications for retailers and brands.

The themes are:

  • External influences: global forces shaping the industry
  • Revolutionising retail: elevating your customer experience
  • The future of shopping: redefining channels and omnichannel
  • Empowering teams: attracting and retaining employees
  • The AI revolution: leveraging generative AI to win today
  • Sustainable tomorrow: trends to commercialise sustainability

We have created an inspiring slide deck that outlines these six themes and the business implications for retailers and brands. The document also includes selected use cases from the conference, illustrating how leading retailers are addressing these themes and creating value for their customers and stakeholders. 

If you would like to receive the material, please contact us at

Consumer goods and services

Learn more about how we help consumer goods and retail companies navigate their most significant challenges. 

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