Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PSFK: The Future of Retail

Here is a fantastic presentation delivered by PSFK on the Future of Retail that was sent to me last week.

PSFK is “the go-to source for new ideas and inspiration for creative professionals.” As a trends and innovation company based in New York “they publish a daily news site, provide research and business consultancy, manage a network of experts and host idea-generating events.” They “aim to inspire readers, clients and guests to make things better – whether that’s better products, better services, better lives or a better world.”

They explore the future of retail from the perspective of brands, shoppers, retailers and communities. Key learnings from their research include:

1. Increased access to the mobile web is freeing the retail experience from the confines of the physical and traditional online environment, allowing shopping to take place virtually anywhere.

Example – Stripey Lines is a mobile application that uses barcode scanning recognition to allow users to quickly access information, check pricing and availability and make purchases.
Activated Space> Unfortunately we’re still waiting for this technology to be made available in Australia…. window of opportunity people! If anyone has information to the contrary, please let me know immediately.

2. Creating a flexible in-store environment through design, product offerings and promotions, ensures that each visit will feel like a brand new experience.

Example - Nike’s pop up retail space in London, 1948 features modular units on wheels that can be used as bleacher seats during events or as merchandising space.
Activated Space> the world is changing at an exponential pace and your business will continue to change as a result. Design your space so you can continue to change with minimal disruption and reallocation of resources that can distract from your focus on the customer.

3. Leveraging collaborations based on aspects such as locale or cultural touchstones, maintains a brand’s relevancy in the eyes of the customer.

Example – Melbourne’s Lost & Found Hotel is a unique place to stay designed especially for readers of the Lost & Found online publication. They’ve collaborated with various local businesses they love, to bring their publication to life and to “help tell a story about Melbourne as a city of creative people producing interesting things.”
Activated Space> Work with your neighbours (physical, online, wherever there’s a synergy). Do you even know who they are?

4. Whether physically or through connected technologies, shopping is still best experienced socially.

Example – Juicystar07 is one of many video bloggers sharing her opinions and tips on recent clothing, cosmetic and accessories purchases. I posted some time ago (Bloggers Drive Brand Awareness) about a competition she did with Shoes of Prey to promote awareness of their brand and drive traffic to their site. Note the Juicy Couture branded wallpaper on her youtube channel also.
Activated Space> Quote from PSFK: “Allow customers to take photos in store”. There are certain retailers with backdated policies that should heed this advice very strongly. To them I pose the following;
(A) Do I look like I’m casing the joint? And
(B) Most people pay with card, if I wanted some cash I’d hit up a convenience store for petty change or bank for the big bucks. Think about it! If you’re store is interesting enough for me to photograph, chances are I will share it with friends which will drive more foot traffic and more sales.

5. In a connected world where access to information is fluid and transparency is the expectation, brands must actively take part in the conversation, otherwise their customers will do so without them.

Example – OfferMeATrip is a site that allows customers to list their ideal holiday and have travel agents bid on providing the dream itinerary, instead of customers having to fit in with the typically generic packages offered by agents.
Activated Space> This two way dialogue means that finally economic theory can hold true (ah yes I am a bitter failed student of the subject) – supply will equal demand. No longer will brands have an excuse for producing frivolous products we don’t want, that draw from the earth’s limited resources. This is such an important step in preserving out planet.

6. The introduction of connected technologies into retail environments is changing the ways that stores are able to provide customer service. 

Example – Colette now supplement their mannequin displays with iPads showcasing additional looks (read about this in Will Ipads Replace Mannequins?).

7. Introducing likeminded products and services into standalone retail environments shows customers that a brand is confident in their core offering and looking to further enhance the in-store experience.

Example – Captain’s of Industry is a one stop shop for men. They are gentleman’s outfitters offering bespoke footwear and leather accessories, haircuts, grooming products, made to measure menswear and a cafe.

8. Physical stores still provide the best means to communicate with customers and offer a brand experience… 
Example – This is Station 999, a lifestyle, clothing and gift shop with an unique house like structure that doubles as display units (as published in Frame).

Activated Space> So make my jaw drop when I walk inside people!

9. In the new customer-centric approach to retail, stores need to continually find ways to lower barriers to purchase and be prepared to make a sale whenever and wherever a customer is ready.

Example – Grill’d Burgers take their van to the countryside for a music festival to feed hungry punters.
IMG_0386 IMG_0387 IMG_0388

10. Empower customers
by providing them with all of the tools needed to make an informed purchase decision.

Example – Google Places allows shoppers to view the inside of a location’s setting, facilities, ambiance, merchandise layout and decor so they know what to expect and how to navigate their way around when they walk in the door.
Activated Space> All shopping malls should be using this. There’s nothing worse than having to go to a large centre you’ve never visited to pick up one item when you’re in a rush. Not knowing what carpark is closest to the store and how to find your way around inside could all be a stress of the past.

I recommend checking out the full presentation here.

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