As lockdown eases in the UK, our latest FashMash Focus turned to thinking about the outlook for retail over the year ahead.
Amid store closures, new safety procedures and changing behaviours, will our shopping streets return to pre-COVID times? Or have they evolved forever?
We sat down with various members to chat through the good and the bad of the last year, as well as what lies ahead. Thank you to our fantastic attendees as always. Here are some of the key thoughts:
SUCCESS VS SURVIVAL
It goes without saying that for many today, survival mode is still key. In London, Oxford Street is feeling like a ghost town, one member shared, with a roster of empty storefronts reminding us of the brutality of the past year. Yet, in other areas, clever real estate deals mean smaller, emerging businesses have been given prime retail opportunities. The result is not only a far greater sense of optimism from such companies, but from shoppers hitting these destinations with purposeful intent.
THE DISCOVERY CHALLENGE
For many brands, physical retail has always been a primary and often more efficient channel for discovery. Reopened stores should help drive awareness. Yet, there’s no denying the lack of office workers in town centres is going to have a continued impact on footfall - at least in the short term, if not longer with more flexible working expected to continue.
HEIGHTENED CUSTOMER SERVICE
Customer service has become an increasing focus for those that can afford to look beyond mere survival right now. A sense of personalisation and engagement is key. This is also central to the digital experience, as virtual services, which were already trending pre-pandemic, have picked up pace accordingly. Ted Baker for instance is offering everything from appointment shopping to personal video consultations. This bridging of online and offline, especially when it comes to customer data, is only going to benefit retailers ahead.
FashMash Focus is sponsored by Klaviyo.