According to a recent study by consulting firm FTI-Andersch, the ability to adapt to trends flexibly is a crucial success factor. For this reason, trends that emerge within a few weeks and possibly disappear equally quickly should be reflected by bricks-and-mortar retailers in their shops. To achieve that level of flexibility, however, value chains need realigning. Digitally driven providers are already one step ahead in this regard, as they have very efficient value chains. They not only achieve greater customer centricity as a result, but also reduce their costs, thanks in part to lower inventory at the end of the season, optimal use of sales space, or centralized warehousing. But don’t let this discourage you! Interesting opportunities exist for bricks-and-mortar retail in terms of jumping on board trends.
The most important thing is to not underestimate your value. Brand manufacturers and retailers are well aware that integrating bricks-and-mortar retail into the overall customer experience is crucial. That’s because customers relate the in-shop experience directly to the brand, which creates enduring loyalty. This success is totally down to the sales staff on the shop floor. That’s because the consumer does not seek and does not find personal advice, the haptic experience of a product, or the feeling of being well looked after on the Internet.
So what opportunities exist for bricks-and-mortar retailers to respond flexibly to trends? On the operational side of business, the first steps are to make order volumes more flexible and shorten order lead times. Remember what has previously been stated during negotiations and stay confident. Be sure to involve your employees; turn them into social media scouts who spot and watch trends and discuss them with your customers.
Themed areas, so-called editorial spaces, should be an integral part of the store concept of the future. You see this often in online shops. Alongside the pure and simple presentation of goods for sale, stories about the product or the manufacturer are published, as well as related articles, DIY instructions or recipe ideas. So, in store, for example, you could set up a table or similar display themed around winter: Display scarves, gloves, hats, as well as tea and tea sets, scented candles and a hand cream to protect the skin from winter dryness. Maybe you could also set up a tablet, on which one of the product manufacturers is talking about the products, or a report on why skin needs more moisture in winter is playing.
This leads directly to the important point of entering into collaboration with other retailers. By presenting suitably trending complementary wares, you can position your own product range more relevantly to the target group or add to its appeal in a meaningful way. The idea of working with local artists and manufactures is also rather charming.
What I would also recommend is not focusing solely on international trends. Regional trends and events (for example, city anniversaries or major cultural events) can be even more relevant than international ones. The best way to do this is by linking up with local retailers. In many cities and regions, initiatives such as “Support your local business”, “Support your locals”, “Buy local”, “Pro Innenstadt Basel”, or “meinKreuzlingen” have been set up, which draw public attention through collaborative and creative approaches.
Finally, I would like to mention Retail-as-a-Service, an approach that I find particularly interesting, and which is growing in significance: To bring variety into shop fittings or design, you sublet space or offer spaces to shop fitters, interior designers, interior decorators or furnishers, who are able to take over the creative design/realization and store design concepts on your behalf, thereby also presenting their services or products. By making space available to producers, Retail-as-a-Service makes it possible for them to have direct contact with their clientele. In so doing you are constantly creating fresh incentives for consumers to visit your shop.