The future of retail will be filled with experiences – more like a Disney theme park without the lines.

That’s the assessment of Daniel Freedman, cofounder of BurnAlong, an online fitness video platform, who wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal Aug 20.

He says observers who predicted the death of brick-and-mortar stores were mostly right from the 1990s to about 2015, but since then, there’s been a change back to experiential shopping, led by Amazon and its bookstores and the more-than-500 Apple stores.

Online shopping will continue to grow, Freedman says, but mainly for things people don’t want to spend any time buying.

“The internet makes it possible to experience events people prefer to see up-close but can’t attend, such as concerts or sporting events. But physically going to a site remains many Americans’ first choice. People cherish being able to touch and choose groceries or seeing their favorite team up close.”

In preparation of The Packer’s Midwest Produce Expo last week, I researched and talked to millennials in the produce industry about how produce selling and retail can connect with this generation.

One told me every millennial he knows has an Amazon Prime account, and the reason they all do is because of accessibility. He admitted sometimes he doesn’t even do much price comparison. If he sees what he wants on Prime, he orders it and gets on with something else.

But that doesn’t mean he or his peers buy everything that way. Food, for instance, is something he can’t trust to Prime.

Retailers who do click-and-collect or delivery have to do it better than Amazon can.

Erick Taylor, president and CEO of Pyramid Foods, Rogersville, Mo., says at Midwest Expo, Pyramid is focused on customer service and making sure that staff collecting orders for online shoppers pick the “best of the best.”

“This isn’t about reducing shrink,” he says. “It is about building loyalty (with) the consumer.”

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