Retail is not dead per definition as people think, but it is dead in the sense of how it has been and is operated today. Innovative retail inclusive a unique experience every time a potential customer visit a location seems to be the way of the future.
Since the world is becoming much more virtual, artificial and fictitious through our screens, we’ve lost touch with some more essential aspects of ourselves. As we speed along, our lives are more and more mediated by technology, and we try to anchor ourselves in our humanity by going through experiences and rituals such as lighting candles or scents to remind ourselves that we are human and fundamental. We crave for these personal experiences that bring us into a deep emotional connection with our inner self. The same seems to be true for innovative retail where the emphasis will be on going through an experience.
Strolling around major cities on Saturdays, one is capable of quickly noticing how vital that need is of experiencing that human connection. Every time, we’re surprised to see how many people still do come out to enjoy the weather, relax, have a drink or lunch and most importantly shop. Even if it might be a dreadful experience for some of us, it seems to be a great way of how people spend their free time during the weekends. This is not only true for the time ridden professional, teacher and nurse but also valid for families who want to spend some quality time together outside of the house in an environment where they can observe, see and be seen. The city centre in traditional Western-Europe still is and has been awarded that role of being the environment where this does occur.
This is also the main reason we believe the brick and mortar business won’t die anytime soon. But for retailers to survive, they must accept the fact that innovation and change management is a necessity.
It is no longer as before just about the product or apparel distribution. The future is all about handing out experiences. Retailers should concentrate less on getting traffic through the door but focus more on building a community, receiving them in a hospitable manner all the while providing the necessary entertainment. The ingredients needed to create “innovative retailers” seems to be to first and foremost offer a tailored approach to customers, to build a community that comes together in a great physical environment to give exciting experiences to your customer base and target group all the while offering them great products.
A specific example could be to let’s say partner-up with a big brand that has the necessary cash flow to sponsor such an event. Take for instance a high-end men’s grooming product line. A smart retailer would be able to see the opportunity immediately. The brand and retailer of care products and perfumes could partner-up to invite the clients of the retailer on a Saturday for a clean shave by an authentic barber who uses those products and recommends a specific product for their sensitive skin-type.
A keyword that kept coming up while writing this blog is “time.” Somehow, we are not able to keep it off our mind. We genuinely do believe that the most important fact for retailers is to give value for the TIME of their customers if they want them to spend their time-off in their stores. What is the point otherwise of visiting a store if one is capable of buying the same kind of goods online? Another factor of importance to the customer besides value and time seems to experience. The customer wants to be dazzled every time they visit the store with not only excellent product selection but also the full experience.
This kind of efforts will set you apart as a retailer from the herd. Those who are not willing to adapt their business models towards changing consumer preferences and market trends are not going to come out alive of these challenged times. Those who do will form the future!