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Today’s retail and consumer goods industries are in a transformative time. With hundreds of thousands of products to choose from and technology in every aspect of our lives, it’s never been more challenging to gain attention and build connections with consumers.

Those brands that succeed will be the ones that can truly put customers first and at the center. And by that, I mean in every aspect of their business—from their products and services, to how their inventory is managed and delivered, to the service their employees provide, even to their sustainability practices and what their customers care about.

To meet customer expectations and build loyalty in today’s digital age, it’s about having your entire brand working together in ways that will provide an experience that is seamless, personal and differentiated.

That may certainly sound like a tall order, but the advancements and speed of technology innovation are catapulting us forward into an exciting new future, one where this enhanced shopping experience is attainable.

As we look ahead, these new experiences will be able to adjust and adapt to a customer’s unique and changing wants and needs, whether they’re shopping on a lazy Sunday afternoon, rushing to a soccer game, or throwing an impromptu dinner party.

The future of food retailing will also seamlessly blend the physical and digital, the offline and the online. Maybe one day that means an amazing sensory experience in the store, combining inspiring cooking demonstrations with digital ingredient lists. Or maybe it’s the speed and convenience of a ready-made, grab-and-go item with mobile check-out. Or maybe it’s a virtual experience with groceries that arrive at your door. All these experiences can co-exist, and retailers can support them all.

As our lives change on a weekly, hourly or even minute-by-minute basis, technology will have the means to help anticipate and deliver just the right experience, and even that “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that” experience.

Using technology innovations as the undercurrent—things like advanced analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and mixed reality—these seamless, personalized and differentiated experiences are now possible. The future is here.

Building it will also involve a community of retail, consumer goods, and technology thought leaders coming together to create these new experiences. That’s why I’m honored to be a part of a New Retail in a Shopper’s World report from The Hershey Company.

As a long-standing consumer goods leader and innovator, and a trusted partner to the retail industry for nearly 125 years, Hershey’s inaugural retail report shares the company’s wealth of expertise as a consultant to food retailers. It explores some of these possibilities, and will inspire you to take action in your own business and get excited for what’s to come. You can access it here.

We look forward to experiencing the future of retail with you!

LinkedIn: Tracy Issel