Last week at the Retail Brand and Experience World Conference, the assistants had the opportunity to hear experts in the retail industry speak about their companies, their experience, and their views on the future of the sector. These are some of the events Vudoir attended:
Personalization and Digital Experience
The first event was about Personalization and Digital Experience in regards to different retailers. The panel consisted of Henry Rourke of Hop Lun, Albin Johansson from Axel Arigato, and Michael Lemner from Tim Tan Consulting. Together they discussed what personalization means to companies of different sizes and why it should be done. Personalization is important to companies with a broad scope, in products and audience, in order to deliver a message specific to each customer. On the other hand, smaller companies with a readily-available audience and specific products may be able to rely on brand recognition as their source of selling. No matter the size of the company, all panelists agreed that identifying a problem before creating a solution is necessary. Once this is done, companies can create changes to their solution based on the feedback and inspiration from customers. In terms of the future, the panelists believed personalization will become its own sector of business, similar to finance or marketing, and that it will be continually tested in order to reduce risk for businesses.
IKEA: Fundamental values shaping change
This event focused on how IKEA, a globally-recognized brand, has maintained success in a time of retail struggle. The company has been able to channel their strengths, such as providing convenience to customers, integrating technology with brick-and-mortar stores, maintaining low prices, and leading sustainable business practices, in order to build upon IKEA’s brand. Juvenico Maeztu emphasized how important it is to recognize a company’s values and expand on these successes, rather than solely focusing on changes. IKEA does so by living by their motto, “Creating a better everyday life for the many people.” This humanistic approach is what allows IKEA to thrive in its differentiation and carry on its reputation as well all know it.
Pier Paolo Righi discussed the art of brand design in terms of the company, Karl Lagerfeld. The idea is that one must create a respectable brand that connects its values to the customer. The way that Karl Lagerfeld has managed to do so is creating the entire brand off of Lagerfeld’s personal interests. For example, the retail stores are inspired by Lagerfeld’s office space, certain logos are based on Lagerfeld’s favorite musician, and promotions are related to Lagerfeld’s family and personal life. While all of these factors are unique to the company, it is crucial to make sure that customers are engaging with these quirks. Luckily for Karl Lagerfeld, they were. Customers started using trends such as #TeamKari to show off their street style and represent the brand as well as attending a memorial for Lagerfeld, Karl For Ever, after he passed. Having key brand differentiators and customer engagement is what has allowed this brand to be so successful, with over one hundred stores and an e-commerce sector that accounts for 40-45% of the business.
Joaquim de Toca Andreu discussed the new projects of Muji that were implemented to improve shopping experience. Muji saw a problem that people weren’t making the effort to come to their physical stores, as this is not the most efficient option with today’s technological, fast-paced environment. As a solution, the company is opening larger stores in prime locations, such as New York, Paris, and Tokyo. This will help increase availability and efficiency for Muji as a whole. These stores will offer a more experiential shopping environment for customers, a common theme throughout the entire convention. Muji’s adjustments in their practices will help carry out the legacy of retail shopping while catering to the needs of their target audience.
The New Retail Formats in China
John Ryan, the founder of New Stores, discussed the emergence of a new retail industry in China. Based on his observations of major stores such as Alibaba, Fresh Hippo, 7-fresh, Sephora, and Starbucks, Ryan emphasized the importance of integrating technology with an old-fashioned shopping experience. Retail companies are starting to slow their processes down and provide a shopping experience beyond the products in order to incentivize customers to shop in-store. For example, Fresh Hippo, a large Chinese supermarket, is the halfway point between a warehouse and a restaurant, allowing its customers to enjoy their food purchases in the store. They have found success with pizza vending machines and a staff-less check out experience. Other chains, such as Sephora, have found a way to balance old and new retail: allowing most technological experiences to be done on a smart phone prior to a store visit and providing assistance from staff when they step foot in the store. As China leads the way in retail innovation, we can only expect more technological infusion to unveil throughout the future of retail.
The Future of Department Stores
With the future of retail stores constantly in question, this seminar discussed what needs to be done to maintain department store success. Speakers Juan Roca, Sebastian Picardo, and Ricardo Balmori discussed many obstacles that department stores need to overcome, such as creating a vision, targeting rising generations, balancing globalization, and developing a brand. All of the speakers had slightly different views on these topics, as they all have different backgrounds, but a few common themes stood out. First stores must concentrate their brand in this rising time of technology in order to avoid losing identity. In addition, they must cater to all generations buy providing experiential shopping, such as food and beverage, in order to give customers a reason to shop and come into the store. While most people think brick and mortar stores are on the decline, all three men were optimistic about the future of department stores, as they continually integrate technology, experience, and identity into their brand.
Brand Innovation – Levi
By realizing the need for a business transformation, Levi Strauss has be able to rebrand itself to continue its global legacy of denim. While Levi Strauss is a household name, they had a period of downfall with the growth of athleisure, lack of internal motivation, and overconcentration on competitors, leading the company to be named a “sleeping giant.” Levi Strauss was able to overcome this by navigating itself into the retail marketplace; The company treated this refocus as if they were a start-up, like how the company began. By selling directly to the consumer, offering customization, and targeting both genders, Levi Strauss has been able to maintain the right assortment, in the right stores, with the right marketing to reclaim its spot as a top denim brand.
Google: A Strategic Tech Partner for Retailers in the Digital Era
Fuencisla Clemares discussed Google in terms of how the company can be used as a strategic tech partner for retailers in this age of technology. With 60% of transactions taking place on platforms by 2025, it is crucial for companies to properly manage data in order to maintain control and awareness of their brand. This can be solved with the help of Google; whose goal is to provide a digital experience. Clemares discussed Google’s up-and-coming solutions in terms of connecting with customers in all moments, personalizing 100% of interactions, optimizing operations, and innovating to improve engagement. Once combined, these four factors can elevate a brand to success in this digital era.
There were common themes arose throughout the conference, from providing a personalized shopping experience for each customer to using data and technology to elevate your brand. Overall, REBWC was a wonderful opportunity for Vudoir to expand its network and gain insight from others in the industry.