The latest of our virtual discussions, held with another group of our founder members, was focused around the subject of what's next for retail.
As we emerge through the other side of this pandemic, the role of physical stores and indeed shopping itself will have shifted. What does that mean in both a practical sense and what are some of the ramifications we need to be considering in order to be agile enough to deal with it?
Check out some of the highlights below...
THE STORE'S ROLE
In light of the pandemic, bricks-and-mortar's role is evolving apace. Brands are rethinking its purpose. This crisis has continued to show us the store can offer an experience not yet achievable online, with our discussion exploring how physical space should be the media for the company, with the experience then acting as the marketing, encouraging deeper engagement. That means sales targets cannot be the sole metric of a successful shop today.
As we first handle the reopening part, there are practical concerns: staff and customer safety is of the utmost importance. How best to manage fitting rooms? How best to sell when a welcoming smile is covered with a face mask? One thing that's expected: those who visit a store post-pandemic will do so with intent, changing conversion rates for the better. How will this change customer service is the question?
On that note, forget the tech gimmicks that have hit headlines recently. Technology should facilitate human interaction, empowering staff to spend less time in the stockroom and more time on the shop floor with customers.
'Self serve' culture means there is less emotional engagement in today's stores. But it's the face time that will provide value long-term for brands. Community will be the core of success, particularly following the localisation movement of lockdown. Winners will return to knowing customers' names, tastes and needs.
Fashion wise, there is going to be a full season of product to shift. How to manage markdowns? Many brands have felt tied to seasons, is this the time to break free? Is this the time to embrace streetwear style drops? Obviously, sustainability remains at the heart of concern for our community. It's this change in tradition that will provide a much-needed long-term solution to this urgent crisis.