Retail goes full circle

As we approach full hybridization of brands and retail, and a concordant hyperfragmentation of the marketplace (good read by @namratalpatel), I'm fascinated by the apparent "full circle" of retail.

If you go back to the very beginning, retail was about relationships and communication. At first it was bartering, then it was town markets. Both of those were primarily about the relationship and communication between people, rather than what was being traded. It is only with the onset of industrialization that retail stopped being about this relationship and started being primarily about the product. With chain retail - malls, department stores, big box stores, and finally Amazon - the product took center stage. Mass production and mass marketing moved the relationship of retail into the background. 

And thus we ended up being shouted at. Brands became shorthand for trying to replace the meaningful relationship of commerce. Communication was top-down, one-way, one-size-fits-all. And they tried to make identity about ownership. 

No longer. Technology is enabling a move back towards relationships and communication, but in a scalable way. Part of that is the way we speak to consumers when we're being "authentic." And part of it is looking at data and trying to anticipate what people want on an individual basis and then providing that to them. A happy coincidence is that people are starting to care more about experience than ownership. 

Part of our DTC thesis is thus that the strongest dimension of competition for the new connected brands ("DNVBs") is a transformational relationship with the consumer

As foot traffic is starting to fall even in traditional European markets where Amazon isn't as strong, I can foresee the death of the current form of physical retail. But I can also see how retail is changing for the positive. By being more about the person than the thing. Which is really at the heart of what we want to invest in.