NRF 2015Ecommerce
7 Key Retail Innovations

Curated Collections and Customization: Modern consumers are used to having a level of control. Curated collections offer this to them, as being curated separates a brand apart from the noise of everything else available on the internet. Trunk Club in the U.S. offers personalized clothing recommendations from a real person, and it’s effective in today’s climate because it combines an eCommerce experience with a storefront experience. As successful ideas are put into place in one part of the world, they get copied across the globe, with Outfittery following in the footsteps of Trunk Club. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, after all. In London, Selfridge’s has taken customization to a new level with their new Fragrance Lab, which allows a customer to enter a profiling experience and leave with their own unique fragrance.


Experiential Retailing: We’re still a long way off from physical stores becoming obsolete. So, retailers need to concentrate on creating a consistent experience for the customer, whether they’re shopping in store or without. To create an authentic in-store experience, retailers need to find out the true reason for building their store in the first place. Is it a place for social gatherings? Is it where customers are educated about products and offerings? Are you offering a one-on-one interaction with the brand? In the UK, Hedonism is a good example of an immersive experience around its product, wine. It has everything one could ask for in a wine  — tastings, decor, education. Clearly defining the purpose behind the store will go a long way towards creating a memorable, synergetic experience that very well may begin on the screen.


Hyper-Local: It’s always been about staying fresh and supporting the community you’re a part of, and now hyper-local is exploding and expanding. Retailers should ask themselves how local and how meaningful can they go for the customer. In France, Au Bout du Champ is trying to bring about a new era of consuming and distributing fruits and vegetables, delivering fresh, in-season produce from within 100km of the consumer. And in Germany, Original Unverpackt stores offer goods without any packaging; consumers bring their own jars, tupperware, etc. and grab everything they can fit, from coffee beans to shampoo to toiletries. Consumers as though they’re taking part in a meaningful change, in this case helping to better the environment.


Online/Offline Mashup: You hear the words “Omni-channel” and “Multi-channel” all the time. Yet, regardless of where and how, we’re still talking about retail. Technological tools are going to continue to evolve, but the future lies in how brands utilize these tools and blend them with traditional methods to create new business models. Argos, in the UK, have evolved their stores into delivery points for customers looking for the “order online, pick-up in store” option. The stores are also now virtual showrooms, which allow customers to order products on screens and receive them within 90 seconds. These types of changes should have retailers thinking: what do we need to have in-store, and what do we need to have elsewhere?


Retailovation: Retail can’t be a place that merely responds to innovation, but drives it. How are retailers changing what the business model is for retail? And where will the next innovative retail business emerge? An example of retail innovation over the recent past is Warby Parker, the nearly all-online glasses manufacturer out of the United States. Their direct-to-consumer model keeps prices low, avoiding the markups that brick-and-mortar stores are known for. In Brooklyn, New York, Urban Outfitters has opened Space Ninety 8, which offers a bar and restaurant in addition to a place to buy clothing.


Technology Intervention: It is often said that “technology is not the answer, it’s an aid.” That may or may not be entirely accurate in a given situation, but the overarching theme is that technology can help solve problems. Retailers need to look at making technology meaningful and relevant to the customer. Disney has introduced the Magic Band to its theme-park customers; it’s a wearable bracelet that’s much more than just an admissions ticket. It allows customers to go on rides and attractions at a previously-booked time, and it can be a form of payment on various Disney properties. Aside from opening many doors for the customer, it also provides Disney a wealth of information about customer behavior.



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