April 11, 2013

What Will Tomorrow Bring?

Whether you're keeping up with it or not, our shopping habits are changing. Today's world is driven by multi-stream technology that connects to consumers anytime, anywhere. Companies are finally learning to make the mobile and tech savvy lifestyle of consumers work for them by keeping their customers "in the know" while on the go.

There's so much data out there and as our technology evolves we are only beginning to understand what this data can, does and will bring. How can we best use this knowledge and just as equally important, how will it impact the way we live? We have the ability to track our customers' buying habits – where, when, what and how they are purchasing. This information is crucial as we move forward into the future. So today we ask, how will this affect the face of retail?

For a new wave of e-commerce brands like Warby Parker it means learning to better control your supply chain. Many premium brands are cutting out the middlemen and going directly to manufacturers. They want to do it all – from designing, manufacturing, distribution, delivery to building customer relationships. By approaching their business models like this, they can sell luxury products directly to consumers at discounted prices and gain higher profit margins in the process. This explains why many brick and mortar retailers with extensive brand recognition produce their own private lines. However, until recently due to the explosion of the internet and social media, this was very difficult for new brands and start-ups to do because it was hard for them to build brand awareness.

photo via Luxury Daily

That's why many continue to delve deeper into the social media universe to build brand recognition through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and now Vine. Take David Yurman who is going more visual by incorporating an Instagram element into their spring marketing initiatives. Through their "Show Your Colors" campaign, consumers can upload an image of their favorite David Yurman piece and tag it #DavidYurman. These hashtags also serve as data analytics so companies can track the virality of their brands. At this point, the key to social media is connecting to your customer's lifestyle by engaging and interacting with them on a direct, everyday basis.

Meanwhile, brick and mortar stores continue to take the technology focused route by creating new and exciting in-store customer experiences. Bloomingdale's is teaming up with Me-Ality to bring digital sizing stations to five stores throughout the country, including one right here in New York. These stations take a mere 10 seconds to match up your size and recommend the best denim styles based on your fit, which are sold both in-store and online. According to retail architect M.J. Munsell, "A few stores – Burberry, C. Wonder in New York, Nordstrom – have experimented with dressing rooms that the customer can actually tailor themselves. You can go into a booth...where you can either plug in your iPad, your iPhone for your own music, you can adjust the light levels, and have your own personal oasis."

video via NMANewsDirect

Look at how the cash register has evolved over the years from antique receipt-less cash drawers to computers, self-checkouts and now smartphones and tablets. And now, Walmart has begun to experiment with their new app, Scan & Go where customers can use their iPhone to scan QR codes and then bag and pay quickly at self-checkouts without ever having to unload their cart. With U.S. mobile payments expected to reach $90 Billion by 2017, before we know it we'll have coupons being sent to us via our smartphones as we browse down store isles tracking exactly what we pick up.

video via Lululemon

One brand who has mastered customer engagement is Lululemon. They have transformed their stores into more than just a shopping destination, but a fitness fanatics dream. From the knowledgeable and enthusiastic brand ambassadors to an entire wall of leggings in any color, pattern, length and fabric you can imagine, this brand really focuses on creating a quality experience dedicated to what their customers want. They've even created an app that helps you find yoga classes near you, invite friends and get tips from local yogis. Not to mention, all the floor displays are on wheels so they can be pushed aside for their weekend yoga classes hosted at their stores. What started as an idea for half store/half yoga studio, has now become a power player in the fitness world and plans to expand to 15 new markets, enlarge their menswear line and launch a new girls store called Ivivva.

With all of this in mind, we will continue to invest our time and money into exploring the possibilities of the future. A new world of commerce is just over the horizon as more and more aspects of the way we live are being replaced by computer generated devices and mobile technologies. Tools like these could eventually lead to the extinction of sales associate and traditional shopping habits. Despite, some are trying to preserve our everyday rituals by figuring out new ways to combine the on and offline worlds, developing community driven concepts, and most importantly remaining dedicated to the wants and needs of their customer base. Today we have mobile phones, apps and personalized in-store experiences, but what will tomorrow bring? 

1 comment:

  1. To The MBF team ...I really enjoyed your update on "what will tomorrow bring".

    Your insight inspires me .

    Tom LaGrega



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