With Melbourne Spring Fashion Week’s Industry Day taking place next week, I caught up with one of the keynote speakers – Keith Mercier, IBM’s Omni-Channel Retail Executive – to get the lowdown on five trends that are changing retail landscape.
5 Retail Trends Trends to Watch
1. The Rise of the Omni-Chanel Experience
Omni-channel retailers who let customers shop across their bricks-and-mortar, online and mobile stores are coming out on top of online-only retailers.
In fact, according to Commonwealth Bank credit card data, online sales at Australian omni-channel retailers such as David Jones, Myer, Woolworths and Coles rose 22 per cent over the last 12 months while sales growth at pure-play online retailers slowed to just 13 per cent.
“International retail brands like Zara, H&M and Top Shop are investing heavily in technology and upgrading their retail experience to an omni-channel one,” explains Mercier. “They are trying to deliver on the ever increasing expectations of the customer and in some cases creating new expectations that customers take with them into other retailers. This changing dynamic means that local brands will need to invest in the same, especially as it’s these brands that will help drive the change. I often say retail is a lot like dating. You are more likely to go a second date with the “brand” that gets to know you and tailor’s their experience to what you want. The competition is increasing and Australian consumers have a lot more options than ever before. The question is which brands will get the second and third dates and which ones will lose out.”
2. The Digitisation of the In-Store Experience
The intersection of the physical and digital is creating an exciting new frontier in store.
Case in point? Burberry. Mercier recommends checking out this Burberry video as a great example of a brand that has designed some of its flagship shops (in London and more recently, Shanghai) to offer customers a digital-first approach to shopping that has created an in store experience that resembles its website and has effectively blurred the lines between shopping channels.
3. The New Pop-Up Store
In the last few years, pop-up stores have been popping up everywhere! Originally used as a marketing vehicle to create brand awareness they have also been an effective way for landlords to lease a space that’s been languishing empty, even if it was only for the short-term.
However, as customers continue to shop on their mobile devices, Mercier says a new type of pop-up has emerged – the showroom – where brands can offer customers the opportunity to interact with their wares and develop a relationship beyond a computer screen.
“Now retailers can use their temporary locations to not only market the brand but to acquire new customers and generate revenue,” says Mercier. “I am curious to see how this continues to evolve as many pop-ups have justified opening a permanent location for some retailers.”
4. Let’s Get Personal
One-size-fits all marketing just doesn’t cut it anymore. Mercier says that customers are increasingly demanding a more personalised retail experience. Whether its personal shopping services, an individualized experience or custom-made products, they don’t just want it to be all about ‘me’ – they expect it. And with customers able to compare prices online, personalisation has become one of the most effective ways a brand can foster loyalty and recommendations.
5. Good Retail Design is Good Urban Design
Modern retail architecture needs to be integrated into the world beyond the shopping space – and that means connections and sightlines to make shopping part of a larger experience.
“I’ve seen so many retailers who have restored local buildings and utilised the existing layout and design aesthetic as a unique way to highlight their products,” Mercier notes. “Target and Walmart in the US are experimenting with smaller urban city formats that fit within existing spaces, rather than having to redevelop city blocks for retail stores. The purpose here is to blend in more with the urban environment and create easier access for urban shoppers.”
We are also seeing some great momentum in environmentally friendly designs. “Whether it’s reusing many of the materials from the existing site to build out the new one or striving for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) approved designs, many retailers are executing responsible design principles,” says Mercier.
You can find out more about MSFW’s Industry Day and purchase tickets here.