The Trends Redefining Retail

Trends redefining retail

A look at the trends that are redefining retail by Valentina Candeloro, International Marketing Director, Mood Media.

The retail and distribution sectors are constantly reinventing themselves. In the last few years, we’ve seen a variety of changes, from the rise of dark stores to the introduction of new services and the creation of shopping experiences.

Shops have always been a pillar of commerce but, as we’ve seen with the opening of the first Google store, they are constantly changing to meet customer needs.  Even with the growth of online shopping, there’s still a place for the physical shop. 

There are many reasons for this. In a physical location, brands can create unexpected experiences, something only possible in real life, a way to make its customers feel something different from the online shopping experience. A successful implementation gives the brand high visibility due to the publication of its customers on social networks, while making customers want to come back – and others want to discover the shop, in short a real virtuous circle of customer relations.

Trends redefining retail

In 2022, the in-store experience will be embodied in four ways that breathe new life into retailing.

  1. The shop that teleports its customers into the brand
    Companies such as Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Vans or Adidas all prove that the brand experience can be applied to all sectors with changing rooms using RFID technology to automatically detect items when entering the room to offering ultimate convenience with multiple interactive screens allowing clients to call a customer adviser, save to email or link to e-commerce websites. Even supermarkets have gone down this route. Silpo for example, has launched a circus-themed superstore, including a delivery service provided by clowns, and the shop includes an event section. Another example of this trend is Sip’N Smoke, the CBD-dedicated convenience store in Toronto, which immerses its customers in a unique pop world.
  1. The shop that creates the event
    We’re talking here about an event that goes beyond traditional collaboration, something that can provide something for social media to talk about. There have been plenty of recent examples: Browns in London, Kith in Paris and the latest collaboration between Greggs and Primark teaming up to merge a clothing range with a Birmingham café and a London pop-up. As part of this joint initiative, the largest Primark will become home to the largest Greggs, dubbed Tasty by Greggs. These examples all show how brands are going further and on a larger scale than they previously did. They have been bigger illustrations of what this means: the collaborations of Amazon and Starbucks and the “Close to you” concept of Ikea in Hong-Kong demonstrate just how far brands can go. 
  1. The shop that doesn’t last
    Pop-up stores have become one of the latest retail trends. In 2021 we saw manifestations of this phenomenon with the launch of landmark pop-up stores such as TikTok in London, Alienware by Gramco in Beijing and Louis Vuitton in various places. There’s also another variation of the theme with the rotation of brands or chains in the same sales space. Here the best example is probably Platform, a place that reinvents the shopping centre by using a constantly revolving number of shops in the same location.
  1. The shop that is no longer in the shop
    Welcome to the world of “shoppertainement”, a concept that was initially established in Asia but is now conquering the world. It’s something we’ve seen from  Dyson, when it launched its first virtual shop accessible via VR glasses
Trends redefining retail - VR

However, these are just the most notable ways in which retail brands are changing.  There are many other approaches that retailers are taking in an attempt to attract new customers.

The reign of second hand

It has become obvious, from Tommy Hilfiger to Nike, Adidas, but also Selfridges in London, all offering now their second-hand corners, that this is now a must. Some brands such as Lululemon or Patagonia have even launched shops dedicated to their second-hand items.

Highlighting the lifecycle of products

Another important element is to give meaning to the products we sell by demonstrating the approach the brand has taken in the life cycle of the product, from sourcing to recycling. 

The shop as a symbol of awareness

Similarly, there’s an emerging trend for retailers to design their point of sale in terms of eco-responsibility, whether it is lighting, furniture or audio-visual diffusion, every gesture counts. More and more brands are looking to take this approach. One example is Clarins’ new store in Paris. The floor is made from recycled marble leftovers cast in resin. The worktops and displays are made of Krion K-Life, an element capable of purifying the air in contact with light. The beechwood on the walls is from fair trade forests. The lamps are 100% LED to optimise energy consumption. The digital screens, presenting the manufacturing processes of the care products, are eco-labeled. There is even a clever bin for depositing finished product packaging so that it can be recycled. 

New levels of commitment

Brands today don’t have to become companies with a mission, but customers are looking at factors beyond price and beyond quality. The Primark Cares programme emphasises the consideration of environmental and human factors involved in clothing design.

Be loyal and be green

Boots has led the way in making the loyalty card a springboard for responsible commitments. The retailer’s Recycle at Boots scheme invites consumers to return their hard-to-recycle beauty and personal care empties and receive Boots Advantage Card points.

Educating customers

A new approach for brands is to help their customers to adopt better practices. For example, Lush organises “zero waste” coaching or “personalised vegan routines” in its Lincoln outlet.

New services

Checkout-less Amazon Fresh stores have disrupted the world of grocery stores and now the online giant is turning its sights to fashion with an Amazon Style store opening later this year in Los Angeles. The obviously high-tech store will make online offline shopping a reality by using algorithms in store to recommend customers which clothes to try on. Clients will also be able to find clothes on racks like a normal clothing store, but they will need to scan a code on the Amazon mobile app to select colours and sizes they wish to try on. Shoppers will then enter a virtual queue for the fitting room, which can be unlocked via their smartphone when they are ready. Touchscreen monitors in changing rooms will also suggest items for shoppers to try on and pay using the online retailer’s biometric palm-scanning system “Amazon One” at checkout.

The subject of delivery and the last mile has been widely addressed by all the brands. Waitrose is expanding its partnership with Deliveroo and will be trialling Deliveroo Hop, the rapid delivery service that brings groceries to customers’ doors in as little as ten minutes. These trials will no doubt expand over the coming year.

Virtual fitting rooms have been much talked about but they’re yet to become mainstream. We’re starting to see them become reality: Tommy Hilfliger has introduced a connected cabin that allows customers to call a sales assistant when they want a different sized garment brought to the fitting room but also suggests other items which could complete an outfit. Amazon is going down the same path in its new physical shops. 

Ever faster purchases

Ease of payment has always been close to retailers’ hearts and we’re starting to see innovations such as payment by automatons or QR codes.

Enjoy the lifestyle 

We expected to see more from lifestyle shops but they didn’t make as much of an impact last year as hoped for. However, we’re seeing some retailers transforming shops: Pernod-Ricard has created a place dedicated to pastis in Marseille, while stores in the Netherlands and France have introduced checkouts dedicated to chatting. This is an area set to grow.

Conclusion 

It’s clear that retailers are beginning to redefine what is meant by shop and we’re also seeing that there’s a growing trend to provide a precise function for stores.  There’s a need to give more to the customer, it’s a trend that is only going to continue.

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