“Smart retailers are defying doom and gloom scenarios, as they realize that shopping in the real world will forever satisfy consumers’ deep rooted needs for human contact, for instant gratification, for the promise of (shared) experiences, for telling stories. Hence the flurry of new formats, technologies, capabilities, and products that now are delighting retail customers around the world.”
Made in Italy has been long associated with style and quality. In addition to a super dose of the arts and the marvelous food one can find in less known regions like Emilia-Romagna (any foodies out there, check out The Splendid Table), design is deeply imprinted in the cultural DNA.
Travelers marvel at the level of care the perennially elegant ladies in Italy put into just going to the grocery store. When asked, some of them will say they do it to feel “put together,” which is the opposite of put out because it's a sentiment that comes from inner motivation.
The rise of street photography in recent years has taken fashion by storm and out into the real world to document authentic fashion trends. People interpret and combine based on their own way of seeing the world and themselves in it. Personal and social culture create the most intriguing ensembles.
As a trend, street photography and social media have opened a two-way dialogue about the world of fashion and its relationship to daily life.
And that is something businesses need to get better at doing. Creating that connection between what they do and daily life. Italian luxury creative director Brunello Cucinelli managed to connect cashmere with culture. As he himself put it, he's a guardian of places, donating 20% of his profits through the Brunello Cucinelli Foundation.
Retail is a hard business, and borrowing from Frank Sinatra, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Customers have plenty of options to choose from to spend their money. What keeps them coming back to brands varies, but there are five trends that cut across traditional demographics that are worth thinking about:
Five retail trends applicable to your business
1. Daily life is better than daily deals
Marketing by context building includes:
- acting as butlers and serving up connectivity – Starbucks' third place, AT&T wifi connection at the SxSW interactive conference – being the host and platform for people to do what they want to do
- adding value with mobile content – one step further from connectivity, with permission, is to be useful by making inside information available to people and their friends, so they're in the know
- reinventing product experiences – plenty of opportunities here for improv and live R&D
- being available on demand and creating demand as a results – if your businesshad an app, would people download t?
2. Off(line) is always on
Even when they're in a physical place, alone or with others, people now have access to a wealth of information. Some statistics:
- 8 out of 10 consumers research purchases online. While 42% research online and then buy online, 51% research online and then buy in-store (Source: Google & IPSOS OTX, September 2010)
- Multi-channel consumers who receive information from more than one source (store, online, mobile, or catalogue) prior to purchase, spend 82% more per transaction than a customer who only shops in store (Source: Deloitte, December 2010)
- E-commerce conversion rates have been hovering around 2-3.5% while brick-and-mortar conversion rates for fashion retailers have been around 20-25% (Source: Verdict Research, May 2010)
- Of the 40% of US consumers who own smartphones, 70% use their smartphones while shopping in-store (Source: Google & IPSOS OTX, April 2011)
- 74% of smartphone shoppers made a purchase as a result of using their smartphone. Of these 76% have purchased in-store, 59% online while only 35% have made a purchase via their smartphone (Source: Google & IPSOS OTX, April 2011)
- Mobile barcode scanning (including traditional UPC barcodes and QR codes) increased 1,600% globally during 2010 (Source: Scanlife, December 2010)
3. Shelf life begins on the shelf
For people to enjoy your product and service, you have to get it in their hands, first. In a world where almost anything has a retail component, your business can orchestrate the enjoyment part of the experience.
That means thinking about everything that surrounds your product and communicates about it, and not just its fulfillment. In the areas where you have control, how can you architect the customer journey? How is it delivered? What goes with it and is complementary?
4. Personal and appropriate for the setting are in
In the same way you would want to wear the right outfit to the right function – is it a day at the beach, or a wedding? – you'll want to be mindful of the settings in which your product is used. How would the business trade better in those settings?
This also goes for how you approach interactions: Is it appropriate to be wearing and traditional 3-piece attire of organizational or internal lingo in a casual gathering like an online community?
5. Co-creation is part of the experience
Many retail brands are now bringing the art of the craft to life by holding live product experiences to their stores. See for example the live demonstration held by Fendi brought to life how some its products are made. ("Fatto a Mano for the Future," Fendi. Photo by Gregory Stefano)
Another example is the Cook and Coffee set up by Italian appliance maker DeLonghi in Paris.
Interacting with the product in the moment of creation creates opportunity for new ideas and applications. Plus the built-in social aspect of attracting people together in the same space. Espresso for two or more is more fun.
Chance and planned social encounters is the main reason why there are so many bars (coffee shops) in Italy and they're all working. Great coffee is table stakes throughout, what makes it worth stopping is the human connection — with the barista and other patrons.