With increased safety measures and regulations in place, the retail experience as we know it has changed. The general feedback we’ve received is that consumers are craving social interaction; people want to have the choice to physically shop.
This means category management, directional signage, and cut-through is more important than ever.
To facilitate social distancing, retailers need to ensure navigation and physical distancing rules are clearly defined, thereby changing layouts and store aesthetics.
The rental market is also driving change. The traditional thought of having products available in a generic space is no longer enough. Retailers need to be able to sell via pop-up shops or have designated areas for large scale promotions in store. The idea of flagship stores being a local travel destination is taking more solid shape in Australia as key brands drive the experience. Investing in these stores is still important even as some of the generic stores close down.
For the time being however, safely and effectively driving foot traffic in store is the goal. With this in mind, retailers and brands need to rethink how and where to invest in their in store communication.
Looking globally at best in class, we turn to Europe and specifically to German retailers who excel in this area. They team up openly with brands and POS suppliers with an emphasis on local supply, cross-category collaboration, in store theatre, shopper convenience and quality experience. They work with a common end goal and their consumer is key. Customer service and consumer engagement forms the foundation of the European experience.
It’s important to note that the Australian market is unique: a low population combined with a wider supply area means that the agility our European counterparts have, for us, is a challenge. Personalisation at store level involves a large investment because there is limited economy of scale and it’s hard to measure an immediate return. If a brand does this well, we see an incredible positive domino effect of incremental sales. When successful, brand recognition is elevated.
Australian businesses have to formulate ways to be better with all the above-mentioned challenges and meet traditional processes with sustainable solutions. This is no longer a nice to have, it is imperative. We know that real change can occur in a shorter period of time than previously imagined, and future generations will not accept the “that is how it has always been” excuse for slow change.
The hybrid approach to combine offshore necessity with onshore knowhow and investment is key. Experiential POS needs to link to a measurable outcome for customers.
Combining personalisation and in store experience with commoditised units for lower priced items means that the retailers will be able to sustain the foot traffic required to make a brick-and-mortar brand experience viable for shoppers.
As consumers consider spend, so must retailers and affiliated brands. The art of economical cut-through is an evolving challenge that retailers must work through so that consumers are clear on direction, feel safe in store, and have the freedom to shop as we move into the new normal.
By Sarah Katsidis