As opposed to what you might’ve heard from the big headline news in worldwide media, traditional retail is far from being dead. “Even Amazon is opening stores” this news is still ringing in my head. Actually, it’s flourishing, although going through so many changes, that the big, old players might not just be flexible enough to catch up with what’s hot right now. This creates a unique opportunity for smaller and new players to shine.
Below you will find 5 keywords, that I personally both as a consumer and as a part of retail industry think as having huge impact on customers’ behaviours.
1. Personalisation in retail. How far will it go?
Everybody loves to have something unique. But embossing your initials on Louis Vuitton bag or adding colours in Nike ID store to sneakers is old news.
Now, with more data collection chances than ever, we can reach another level of personalisation. One example are subscription services, where you write about your likes and dislikes, while the retailer (either manually or using AI) will match products to your needs. Subscription business models are transposed to many sectors such as cosmetics (See Birchbox example) or automotive industry (Porsche Passport).
Is a high level of personalisation available also within brick & mortar stores? Last year at JAPAN Shop trade fair in Tokyo I saw a demo store that tracks not only movement inside the store but also faces that it’s able to identify. That is just a step from showing personalised products on the screens (Hey, you haven’t bought toilet paper since last week! Are you sure you don’t need it?). As creepy as it may sound, this might be the next step for retail personalisation.
2. The importance of a community for retailers. Let’s uncover a local insight!
We are living in a strongly individualist society although we have still a strong penchant to collective experiences, especially seasoned with a geographical insight.
Now this one can and should be understood in two ways. More and more retailers try to fit into the community where they are located. Smaller stores especially might not attract crowds from afar, therefore co-existing harmoniously with the locals might be the best solution for them. That could be achieved both by the location and architecture as well, as range of goods that will primarily be defined by local needs. If you can have the goods made locally, even better, creating the unique, local bond.
On the other hand, building a community across all the customers seems to be gaining traction as well. The loyalty programs are still popular and clients are one thing, creating a space for the clients to interact between themselves – even better. According to McKinsey report this is the area where brick and mortar stores can still compete and win – by giving access to a community and set of great experiences
3. Customer awareness. You are what you eat, you are what you wear
Both in retail, but also in restaurant industry for example, it’s no longer enough to just serve ‚good product’ or ‚good food’. The customers are more and more aware of the environment and other factors, which leads to questions, i.e. where is the product from? what is it made from? does it have x y z certificates?
This regards not only the products, but store fixtures and even staff. Customers want to deal with fair companies and it tends to be verified on every step. It might be costly at the beginning, but once the customers are convinced about the route for products, they’ll be more keen to visit your store and stay loyal. Because you care, they will care too.
4. ‘Instagrammable’ zones. Attract clients searching for aesthetic experiences
The online stores are better designed, faster and easier to use than ever. Realistically – it’s often not necessary for the customer to visit your store. How do you help them make decision about visiting after all?
What online stores won’t satisfy is the customer’s need for a unique style and experience, that only brick and mortar places can offer. It Is very difficult to a make store a destination, but it’s not impossible. Have something unique and don’t forget about ‚instagrammable’ piece – a place, where they can easily take pictures of them, of something, of your products – with an easy to recognise spot (a painting? sculpture? beautiful lightning fixture?). Well tagged store will draw more crowds for sure.
There is a cake shop/café in London called Peggy Porschen Cakes, their store is eye-catching and they always have an elaborate decorative floral display at their entrance. I see this photographed on Instagram time and time again. Here’s a link to the image results when you search for ‘Peggy Porschen’, as you can see their floral display at the front is shown numerous times. If you search Insta for this #peggyporschen you’ll see the shopfront a lot.
5. Collaboration and brand collectives in the retail industry.
This has been a buzzword for quite a few years already, but it is still relevant. Collaborations between brands or retailers are huge and draw a lot of attention. If produced in limited in numbers, even better, a secondary market will appear, that will create even more positive marketing for you. The more out of the box collaboration, the even better. The best example is last year’s unexpected line of goods made by French high street fashion house Louis Vuitton and New York’s original street wear brand Supreme. Released in a strictly limited locations and numbers, this campaign drew thousands of fans queuing in line for days in front of the stores, that guaranteed insane resell prices (i.e. keep all bag that retailed for 3750$ can be bought now for more than 8500$). How about trying that at your brand?
Yes, the above may be just a the tip of an the iceberg and there’s much more going on. It key however not to stay stagnant, be aware of the market’s pulse and staying fresh. With that attitude, retail extinction is fay, far away. Infact it’s just getting better!
How about your buzzwords for retail? What are trends that you can’t wait to become reality or others that are concerned about. Share your ideas with us!