There is much confusion and debate around the ongoing validity of the department store format with the likes of John Lewis and Debenhams to name but a few of the bigger names also struggling to find form in this new digital era.
If we combine this with the acceleration of what was an already weak format and balance sheet it seems that Covid simply shone the light on this sector that much brighter.
So, what can retail do when consumers are scarce, revenues are at a trickle, resources are being diminished by the day, and you operate a model at much higher fixed rate than all those online businesses that have been nibbling away for many years?
As the retail sector continues its unbundling of department store and big box formats there is a glimpse of hope, but it requires an agile and open mindset from leaders and employees alike.
The first step is to get back to the basics of delivering on the customer’s wants and needs, building trust, and demonstrating that our appreciation of the individual shopper goes beyond the sum and substance of his/her transactions.
From where I sit I can see 3 huge opportunities for not just retail, but also many other sectors with a desire to not only remain 'front of mind' with consumers, but also to get them involved in a way that's been proven to encourage them to leave that government endorsed 'safe bubble' with the continued message called 'stay at home'.
Why you should seriously consider this? - "Because if you don't look to move inertia in your favour then your simply waiting for basic economics to finish you off."
3 Inertia Moving Strategies;
- Visual Magic
- Sustainability and Re-use
- Social & Streaming
- Visual Magic - If you're active on LinkedIn you can't help noticing the number of people looking for work. One of those talent sectors also hit by this crisis is that of the 'Visual Merchandising' teams.
What if we turned to them in this crisis and asked them to literally think outside the box (or store in this case) and come up with something we know is lacking which is good old 'retail theatre'. Something that focuses on a really cool customer centric experience - think Xmas market type of pop up locations, think about segmenting the department store experience into a small store format on a temporary basis - JUST GET CREATIVE!
- Asset Re-Use & Sustainability - When a retailer invest in Visual Merchandising (display) assets it rarely (if at all) sits alongside the store design and shopfitting on the balance sheet other than for a new store opening. From my understanding most retailers haven't a clue what these ongoing assets are, and more worryingly where they are sat, and at what value - But what if retail looked at these assets as way of leveraging strategy #1 above?
- Social & Streaming - Who better to tell a company’s story than its employees? Team members are far more capable than any external marketing agency. When team members generate content, they themselves become the face of the company, and consumers often find it easier to relate to a real person than a company entity. What if a retailer created that customer experience in the form of a pop up store, Xmas market style stalls, using social streaming and social media as the communication channel, how about including its audience as part of the stream, thus leveraging the ability to stream to an already engaged audience and providing levels of reassurance that can be shared on social platforms everywhere - would that get people back to the stores?
C'mon Retail - get creative
In a single "slow" month, our reuse program leveraged over £29K in additional marketing spend for just one client! During the busier holiday and events season, that monthly figure will at least double. Reused units typically show a return on investment several times greater than their original cost. Moving from single-use to multiple re-use is simply the right thing to do, financially and environmentally. There's nothing more sustainable than using what you already have.