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Connections Not Boundaries Future Learning

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Discuss About The Connections Not Boundaries: Future Learning And Physical Spaces.




In this report future effectiveness of retail in Australia is discussed with example of Coles. It has been found that digital capabilities are only way forward to create effectiveness by incorporating ease of navigation like omni channels within stores. These will improve seamless shopping experiences with personalization of products for customers and will enable operational optimization to build value chain in store design and leverages to deliver what customers expect.



As stated by Balaji & Roy (2017) the future of retail in Australia is getting revolutionized rapidly due to rise in globalised consumers who are more informed than ever before and due to momentum in supply chain with integration of technology. Moreover the retail business in Australia is facing changes due to rising threats from global digital retailers and presence of low cost entrants. This fast pace of change has left several retailers both small and large in Australia facing challenge to design and restructure their stores for future changes and thinking how would stores of future look like so that these could fulfil changing customer expectations without creating excessive financial burden on retailers. According to Loughran (2014) in order to address the future needs of retail changes it is essential first to interpret the manner the consumer would behave and expect in future. The need for understanding customers adequately is also important as customers are at the centre of retail business transformation and exert huge power as they have grown more connected with retail business. Also with better access to information customers have become more vocal and clear about their needs and wants and if not delivered appropriately they easy switch to other retailers or platforms that are more likely preferable.

As opined by Thomson (2015) today customers of all age and demographics expect more seamless and customized shopping experience from retailers and no longer shopping is about buying products and low prices. The core of change in expectations of customers is thus surrounded more on experiences they would receive from the retail channels they want to explore. So while customers hold more control on their expectations and choices they also want the retailers to bring valuable lead in offering personalized experiences flawlessly to make shopping ways exciting and convenient other than just offering products and services. As such many retailers in Australia have responded to future changes with digital innovation integration from outside by using omni-channels and brick and mortar platforms to boost customer experiences. According to Annabel & Scrymgeour (2018) in future both physical and online retail platforms will need drastic transformation so as to make shopping more about social ritual than just focusing on procuring products. Also more importantly physical stores layout needs to equip to destructive innovation so that they can overcome online competition as online retailing has been expanding at a rapid rate with average 19% growth ever year on e-commerce sales. So it is expected that by 2022 online sales will reach to over 30% as buying online offers greater ease and competitive prices. But this does not means that physical retailing will end rather it means that these stores have to utilize opportunities that can talk more on brand story, experiences building and personalizing than just focusing on conveniences and competitive prices to generate better and clear differentiation to lock loyalty over online retail. This can be achieved by offering and fulfilling deep human need with social interaction and emotional connect. Example, Apple stores offer more than just products and this is so exciting that customers wait outside before every launch to witness that exclusive experience in stores. As opined by Price & Wrigley (2015) everything in physical stores needs to change as more customers have better access to information and products and hence they expect to get anything from anywhere. As such as lot of innovation needs to be integrated in physical stores in future to meet growing customer expectations. As stated by Vecchi, Al-Sayegh & Peng (2015) in stores products can be showcased on large LED displays where customers can browse and purchase and get them delivered to their homes. Also customers can ask details or check features of products at stores and then can order both in-store with digital integration such as on touch screen monitors to confirm their booking and can either pick or get it delivered. So stores today need to be more focused on creating moments of experiences than thinking on distributing channels for products as online retailers already offer scope to purchase products anytime, anywhere. Hence to beat online platforms and become more appealing in future physical retail stores need to capture moments where customers would fall in love with products they want instantly and turn out to be loyal.


Operations of Coles

In order to better understand the future of retail in Australia the example of Coles Supermarket is taken whose current operations includes managing people across Australia in supermarket, liquor and convenience stores. According to Wesfarmers Limited (2018) Coles operates under various businesses such as Coles Supermarkets, Coles Express, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, First Choice Liquor, Coles Online, Spirit hotels and Cole’s financial services. The operations of Coles all business segments focus on improving customer experiences and building an engaging store atmosphere. Cole’s operations help to create a difference in the manner millions of Australians shop by offering endless customer care, management of stores, innovation, area management and communications.  


Technology adoption in future

According to Zelinski (2018) in future Coles can create a real difference and impact in retail business in Australia by concentrating more on distributing experiences and moments and less on channels. With integration of technology the physical stores of Coles can be made more interactive where customers can browse the products, check reviews, try new launches and even personalize their own products before orders. With use of digitalized operations and re-engineering of supply chains at Coles the retail stores can become more competitive in future. Coles can leverage digital integration for reimagining of stores so as to cut cost and complexity from businesses and to employ human and capital resources more on front line of services to create extra value as expected and required by customers. Coles need to use digital strategy across all areas of their business to reach to full capacity and develop end to end user experiences for retail effectiveness.  

As stated by Schlossberg (2013) the prime areas where Coles can move on to include digital transformation for enhanced effectiveness and to ensure swift and decisive actions are:

Digitalizing physical stores: Coles can build single retail experience with omni channel as part of physical stores and not as separate interactions by extending digital experiences in-stores with brick and mortar itself for truly seamless and global experiences. According to Adgully Bureau (2018) Cole’s future stores can use robotics for inventory management and transparent stock availability with use of video surveillance systems enabled with smart technology. These along with store personnel’s can stream stock levels with video cameras to relate back to stock records. These systems can also check depth of stock, make shelf replenishment and can inform shelf placement with advanced plan-o-gramming to trace footprint of customers, dwell time, transaction rates that can be used to optimize store layouts. Also according to Scattergood (2016) Coles can use technology to allow real time pricing for customers where they can check change in price dynamically. Also these will enable to evaluate response of customer in real time with more approaches to price testing and promotions powered with analytics. Like perishable items can automatically become low priced as their use by date approaches through this real time price technology. Coles can also use live data on customer behavior in front of shelf to recognize and refine effective sales tactics for specific products in particular stores.

Digitizing operations: according to Trompenaars & Woolliams (2016) Cole’s can use robotic process automation (RPA) and Artificial intelligence to cut cost and complexity in operations with digitalization.  Example, together with business process re-engineering and business process management, RPA can develop virtual workforce of robots to emulate human activities. These will help to attain high ROI by avoiding legacy systems and process change to build more effectiveness. Such as software bots can be used to gather data from SAP or spreadsheets to reallocate stock and make changes in inventories. These bots can log into system with user ID so that their decision can be traced and in this way with smart technology more agility can be incorporated in retail operations of Coles at low cost for future effectiveness.   



Thus as global retailers are moving to capitalize their digital capacities to meet to future effectiveness so right time has arrived for local retailers like Coles in Australia to move further in digitalization by incorporating advanced digital footprint in their physical stores. Though investment to get digital appropriate will be huge but opportunity cost of not attaining it will be comparatively bigger. As digital transformation in all areas is the only way to keep local retailers like Coles in competition with offshore and online retailers so to survive in this Coles need to build less capital intensive operational model to build back margins with digital smart supply chains, physical stores layout that fits seamlessly with omni channels shopping experiences. Some recommendations for future are making instant actions to bring digitalization from inside out, through which Coles can lead towards building their store for future effectiveness that will also insure market foothold.   Second recommendation is to understand customer expectations as with exposure to global disruptors the expectations of customers for digital retail experiences has increased so Coles can try innovations in omni channels to personalize customer moments with analytics. Moreover internet savvy millennial having more income and information have created disruptions in retail with online and social media. So to keep up with them Coles physical stores need to become more competitive to understand their overall life patterns and deliver regularly on their emerging needs with interactive platforms in stores that can make them search, explore and order products. As millennial look for effortless shopping so Coles need to understand meeting this generations needs for future growth.  



Adgully Bureau. (2018). Brands today should talk less and listen more. Adgully. [Online] Available: Central&tab=Everything&query=any,contains,Ideas for effective%20 retail future with use of technology&sortby=rank&offset=0  [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Annabel, B., & Scrymgeour, M. (2018) Business - Retail matters: Hindsight, insight and foresight. [Online] AJP, Vol 99 (1169), 48–49. Available:;dn=365515755207572;res=IELAPA [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Balaji, M., & Roy, S. (2017). Value co-creation with Internet of things technology in the retail industry.(Report)(Author abstract). Journal of Marketing Management, [Online] 33(1-2), 7–31. Available: doi:10.1080/0267257X.2016.1217914 [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Loughran., R. (2014). Build of the future: How technology is changing retail design [Online] Property Australia, Vol 28(1), 49. Available:;dn=948254670251126;res=IELAPA [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Price, R., & Wrigley, C. (2015). Design and a deep customer insight approach to innovation. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, [Online] Vol 28(2), 1–14. Available: doi:10.1080/08961530.2015.1092405 [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Scattergood, G. (2016). Digital disruptors are making their move. Campaign Asia - Pacific, pp. 50–54,56,58. Hong Kong: Haymarket Business Publications Ltd. Available from [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Schlossberg, P. (2013) "Innovations in retail will change the way we do business",, . Available at [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Thomson., S (2015) Connections not boundaries: Future learning and physical spaces. [Online] Architecture Australia, Vol 104 (5), 51–52, 54–55. Available:;dn=528323397470734;res=IELAPA [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Trompenaars, F. & Woolliams, P. (2016). Going digital internationally. Organization Development Journal, 34(1), 11-35. Retrieved from [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Vecchi, A., Al-Sayegh, M., & Peng, F. (2015). Looking for the perfect fit? online fashion retail - opportunities and challenges. Paper presented at The Business & Management review, London, Vol 6(3) 134-146. Retrieved from [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Wesfarmers Limited. (2018). Hovers Company records [Online] Available at ProQuest Central Retrieved from [Accessed on 20 Sep. 2018]

Zelinski, P. (2018). The view ahead: How far will digital advances go? Modern Machine Shop, 91(1), 114-115. Retrieved from [Accessed on 20 Sep, 2018]


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