May 28, 2013

The New World

Let's face it, our world is forever changing and in order to survive, it's more than necessary to have a great retail concept. It's no longer just about merging online and offline, but learning to tackle real-time retailing, which is the latest direction the industry is headed. It's becoming more and more clear that in order to be successful, retailers need both online and offline platforms to connect and provide instant gratification through. Mobile and social technologies have revolutionized everything and the only way to keep up is to be cutting edge, innovative, unique and most importantly, able to cater to changing consumer demands in an instant.

From technology to omni-channel retailing to curating, personalization and of course building customer relationships and understanding consumer behavior, we've evolved so much. However, it's time to get even more creative and take things one step further!

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The King of Fashion is leading the pack as usual with his new Karl Lagerfeld store in Amsterdam. The space not only features iPads throughout the showroom, but each fitting room is equipped with a wall-mounted touchscreen and camera. Customers can take snapshots to create their own digital lookbooks and even add Instagram-style filters before sharing via Facebook, Twitter or through email. This represents yet another concept shop trying to create instant buzz about their brand by intentionally incorporating social media into their strategy and learning to capitalize on growing omni-channel retailing.

Some look to their customers for inspiration, literally. Whether it be through Twitter, Instagram or the like, retailers are quickly learning that showing their products on real people stimulates engagement as well as increases buying habits. Brands like Lululemon and Coach are just a few to jump onboard as they turn their customers into models by recognizing the power of social media. The fact is people trust other people (whether they know them or not) over brands. While this does raise privacy issues, most customers are readily willing to share and be shared.

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Others go back to the beginning by investing in technology operations, like Target with its new tech lab in San Francisco. This office set to be visual and "operate at warp speed," has hired a diverse group of approximately 20 developers, designers, data scientists and marketing experts with hopes to take on e-commerce giant, Amazon.

As we continue to experiment and perfect 3D printing technologies, what does it really mean for the future of retail? Well first of all, it will completely revolutionize production as we know it; leading to rapid prototyping, direct digital manufacturing, room for more designs, cheaper products and customization. However, there is a downfall, and that's the growth of counterfeiting as a growing concern of how to handle digital files ensues. The first industry to really feel the impacts is the designer eyewear market, which has been creating 3D printing prototypes to speed up product development for some time. While so far it has found success, we still don't know nearly enough about what our capabilities in the 3D printing sector are and how to deal with the legality of it.

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Pinterest has been making headlines again as they are quickly learning how to monetize their platform by attracting the likes of advertisers with the addition of "active" pins. With new features to enhance current features, the company has not only added pins that contain embedded information about products, recipes, and movies, but a Pin It button to its smartphone app. To boost its movie element, the company will team up with Netflix, Time Warner's Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes to create pins that offer information on everything from film ratings to cast members. For recipes, publications like Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple will be promoted. And as far as products go, brands ranging from Etsy and Urban Outfitters to Walmart and Home Depot have partnered up to get some new Pinspiration. 

Sometimes you just have to brainstorm to get it right. Other times you experiment with actual implementation. The point is, things are changing at this very instant and we have to ask ourselves, "how can we keep up?" Everything is made available at the drop of a pin and as soon as something is new, it's old. However, you can either learn to make it work for you or not. Retailers need to remain open minded and look at everything as an option in order really evaluate how data as well as social and mobile technology can be used as an asset in this new world.

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