Is the Future of Retail A Lonely One? (We Hope Not)

Posted in Business tips on Jun 12, 2018

When you walk by a restaurant and can’t help but notice that the lineup for a table curls around the outside of the building, you know the food has to be out of this world. You opt to reserve a table as soon as possible, knowing there’ll be tons of others wishing they had your seat.

What happens when you walk by a restaurant in the middle of downtown at dinnertime and see no one in it? Well, nothing. Because you’re still thinking of the hidden gem that had people lining up in the cold. 

Aside from the likelihood that the food tastes much better in the crowded restaurant than the empty one, you can’t help but feel averse to the thought of dining alone. 

There’s an unspoken togetherness that comes along with the act of consumption. Whether it’s in a restaurant or on a shopping trip, it’s common for us to find comfort in consuming as a collective.


Moby is a mobile driverless store, offering products “for immediate consumption,” such as milk, lunch, or over-the-counter medication. It’s currently being beta-tested in Shanghai. How does it work? Pretty similar to Uber, actually. From an app, you order the closest Moby store to make its way to you. Once it arrives, you get in, take what you need, and leave. Your account will be charged, meaning you don’t need to carry cash.  

Of course, Moby brings a whole new level of convenience to the concept of the convenience store. But does something like this work best when only one person is in it? What if more than one person in the area orders a Moby? How many people fit inside one?

Having access to a depanneur-style store at any hour of the day can be a lifesaver. On the flip side, shopping alone late at night can be creepy. It all depends on how you look at it.

We’re beyond amazed by the inventions that are launching us into the future of retail. At the same time, we don’t want to forget about the traditional qualities that end up mattering the most, such as collectivity. In our opinion, the future of retail will keep the good and get rid of the bad. As annoying as shopping in a crowd may be, you have to admit that the eeriness of being in an empty store isn’t always worth it. We’re interested in where the idea of collective consumption will land when it comes to retail innovation, since spending a day out shopping is just about as social as it gets. 

Where will innovations like Moby fit into all this? Are we creating a new genre of retail? 

Those are big questions with only speculative answers. But what we can say is this: consumerism is transforming in more than one direction. Will you follow along?