— twoyearsfromnow

A conversation on trends in retail and how digital affects the shopping experience.

Customer experience: What are the interesting trends happening in this space? What should retailers be doing to improve customer experience and remain competitive? 

Retailers have to learn to turn off the selling. Customers can be put off when trying to be sold something by someone they don’t know or doesn’t fully understand the customers needs. Retailers and brands have to think empathetically about the customers experience, this ultimately will lead to sales!- Retail customers are shopping 24/7 – brands and their retailers need to leverage this. What shoppers see online and in the physical world has to be continuous, an omni-channel approach.- Burberry have applied a great omni-channel experience; everything from the product choice, product interaction, brand stories/communications and music are consistent in-store and online.- Kate Spade has supported new experiences by allowing customers to shop through interactive screens at their shop windows – leveraging the retail space- adidas have the Virtual Footwear Wall, an interactive screen located in stores to extend their product inventory.- In Hong Kong for example, I think COS are inconsistent with their customer experience. Their product is great, though, those products differ from in-store to online, and the staff have no understanding of when new products arrive or what they might receive. They are missing a huge opportunity to retail more, many customers leave empty handed or un-informed. - Omni-channel is key, it’s about being consistent across all touchpoints for both customers and staff – brands have to cater for their customers who dip in and out of the shopping journey both in-store and online.

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Shops of the future: Will they exist? How are they changing? What will they look like? 

Of course, physical experiences are key – peoples physical interactions are constantly feeding digital experiences, and vice versa. Bricks and mortar stores are valuable destinations to build brand awareness and relationships with customers. - Shops may become pure experience destinations where customers try and use products, engage in a sensory experience that leads to a purchase, and the purchase may happen at anytime or anyplace, in or out of the store. A digital device can be used to support and record the customer experience, building the relationship. - Digital has a chance to effect retail formats. Take a fashion store for example and imagine it as a connected store with fully integrated mobile payment. The design format of the physical environment could completely change to adopt mobile payment, imagine a store layout designed around a fitting room experience. Allowing customers to try on clothes in a personalised environment and pay for the products there and then – bringing the payment to the purchase decision.

Payments: How is technology changing the way people shop?

At the moment, typical cash counter payment disconnects the customer journey – think how many times you’ve walked away from a store without making a purchase because the cash desk queue is too long … staff should be equipped better to interact these purchase transitions with mobile payment facilitations. Apple have facilitated this well, yet others are slow to adapt – thinking fast fashion retail.What’s happening right now and whats around the corner?- Thinking about ownership of a product. Do you have to own it? There’s certainly a trend for renting or leasing products – Tesla are shaking up the automotive industry with new retail locations, payment options and overall customer experience. Thinking around the increasing use of wearable technology and the internet of things, could a device record how a product is used and charge the customer for the duration or intensity of use? Think of the many products it could be applied to … bikes, household electronics, automobiles. For Hong Kong, it could be an extension of the Octopus card … the Octopus card could be the centre point for the internet of things in Hong Kong.

Disruptive forces: What are the major disruptive forces impacting retail? How can retailers find opportunities? 

I think its important to point out brands are no longer in control, the consumers are: customers interacting with brands seamlessly. What consumers share, buy and do through their digital behaviours drives corporate decisions.- User experience design is considering how people engage/interact with brands, products, people and things at all times, people are interacting 24/7 … the customer journey is continuous – it doesn’t have a start or ending. Brands should see customers as unique individuals – it’s where big data comes to support personalised experience – where rich information can be translated back into new experiences and products, that is meaningful and relevant to the customer. - Showrooming is another area that retailers should support with great effect. Brands and retailers can leverage to build better relationships with customers. Brands now go to where their customers are interacting, customers engage with brands through many different media channels. The retail journey is multi-faceted with individual channels and touch points where customers interact and transact. Stores are now destination for research and experience, what is known as showrooming – and retailers have to support with a true service experience that engages people online in-store, providing a deeper level of interaction – it builds relationships, loyalty and advocacy. Studies show that the single most powerful incentive to buy is often someone else’s advocacy.  Retailers should be facilitating what the customer can do on their digital devices and amplify it!

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Zara talent

Zara Talent Tour is in town at The Space on Hollywood Road, Hong Kong, anyone wish to sign up for a photo-shoot should head down there! 22nd July to 9th August. talenttour.zara.hk

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Topshop opens its first store Hong Kong, located on Queens Road in Central. A buzzing atmosphere inviting customers for personalised shopping with stylists and something new to HK, brand comms prompting mobile users to log onto free WiFi and share via social networks. Will this store be a stepping stone into mainland China?

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Merging the physical and digital: Smartphones supporting NFC and the latest Bluetooth will allow the phones to ‘talk’ to other objects with integrated RFID tags. Customers can gain deeper information about the brand or product, even taking personalisation to the next level. Embedding RFID chips, or radio frequency tags into products and store support interaction from technology devices.

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Layered photographic window installation.

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New Samsung store located at Harbour City in Hong Kong. Looks like they could have done with a bigger shop! Neat looking store though couldn’t see much. Lot’s of staff, most attending sales with some leading product tutorials.

 

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Change behaviour: An everyday problem that could be solved with a simple floor graphic or pavement detail.

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ID magazine exhibition with a photobooth in Joyce on Queens Road in Hong Kong. Great to see some of the old ID magazines and I just managed to squeeze in the photobooth to get a picture. It was very tight in the booth, I couldn’t even contort myself to press the shutter release. They missed a good social media opportunity here, no drive to personal Weibo, Facebook or Twitter accounts …

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Land Rover

Hum, seen at Hong Kong airport, I wouldn’t say creativity is in the blood Land Rover. Been done before I see.

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china driving

Observations from China. Most people seem to drive like they ride bikes, with no understanding of the give-way rule traffic congestion backs up rapidly.

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