With the year rapidly drawing to a close and Christmas just around the corner, it is worth taking a step back to assess the big picture retail environment in which we are all operating.
Retailing, like just about every other business sector in the world, is being disrupted and there is no shortage of negative media reporting surrounding retailing at present.
Flat retail trade figures, uncertain economic and employment outlooks, cautious consumer spending, retail store closures and staff cutbacks, and the impending arrival of global internet shopping giant Amazon on our shores are all feeding a sense of ‘doom and gloom’.
While there is no doubt that the current retail environment is challenging, and competition is rising online, it is important to remember what it is that makes retailing unique and special and draws shoppers to its stores and centres – particularly during this peak festive season.
Retailing is no longer just about shopping, as this can increasingly be done online and delivered to your door. What cannot be replicated online is the ‘experience’ that a visit to a retail store or shopping centre provides.
Physical bricks and mortar shopping, as opposed to click shopping online, is at its heart a social interaction. In-store shoppers connect with products, staff, other shoppers and their family and friends in a destination environment that only shopping can provide.
At no time is this more evident than in the lead up to Christmas. Shopping at this time is a social interaction that connects you to your loved ones, your favourite products and brands, precious family memories and your local community. Shopping is all about the experience at this time of year but shouldn’t this be the case all the time?
Retail stores and shopping centres must ensure they are the desired destinations for social interaction and community connection, not just at Christmas, but all year round!
The responsibility lies with retailers and shopping centre owners, managers and marketers to make this happen. Connecting with customers and providing them with an engaging setting to also connect with each other is what it is all about.
Retailing is being re-imagined right throughout the world and we are seeing the emergence of new terms such as ‘retailtainment’. This essentially covers a whole range of retail-based entertainment experiences such as food and beverage, health, wellness and lifestyle, cinema, music, gaming, children and family entertainment.
It is these things that are helping to transform retailing from just shopping to a lively destination experience. Providing ‘retailtainment’ is a crucial component of the modern retail mix but another key ingredient that should not be overlooked is getting the retail basics right.
Get back to basics in your retail presentation, marketing and service. Have a clear strategy, a commitment to doing all the little things right, a willingness to work hard and a focus on innovation to ensure you meeting the demands of the modern customer and providing them with the retail experience they crave.