ACROSS Publisher Reinhard Winiwarter took the lead at 4PM (CET) on September 2, 2021, to initiate the ACROSS Retail Talks on the topic “New concepts from around the globe”. Moderator Klaus Striebich, Managing Director of RaRE Advise and Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board, followed by welcoming the panelists and outlining the discussion’s main focal points. How can the retail market communicate with the customer, understand their needs and adjust accordingly? Important aspects of future developments revolve around such concepts as mixed-use, digitalization, placemaking, omni-channeling, community-building, platform economy, local supply etc. Besides the panelists’ input, a live audience is welcomed to interact and transmit their own questions to the panel.
“Everything is about connectivity”
The discussion round consisted of the panelists Theresa Schleicher (futurologist and Managing Director of VORN), Jan Eising (Director Estate & Expansion at Rituals), Yurdaer Kahraman (CEO & Board Member at Fiba Commercial Properties and Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board), and Vi Patel (Chief Operating Officer at Hunkemöller).
Taking off, Schleicher shared her insight on the change of customer behavior, commenting on a highly complex and quickly changing retail landscape. One result of the pandemic was a rapid rise of e-commerce, further benefitting a convenient customer experience – a service many are taking for granted. This goes hand in hand with digitalization and new technology to connect the stationary retail world with online platforms, and thus, build a community. The most important trends will be convenience, caring, and speed. Retailers will face challenges such as professionalizing logistics and keeping up with customer demands.
“The strength of human nature to want to shop”
Patel adds his observation of a systematic shift in customer behavior not only through e-commerce but also through research and education. Before visiting a shop, many customers previously inform themselves and therefore simplify the tasks for on-site staff. Fortunately, even after the Covid crisis, people are returning to the shops because they want to discover new things and experience products live and firsthand.
What makes a customer come back for more?
Expanding on this thought, Patel emphasizes the importance of the relationship and connection between brick and online platforms. Eisinger elaborates with the example of the “House of Rituals” in Amsterdam which utilizes omni-channel tactics and innovative product display to not only meet demands but also entertain and excite. Future retail trends include the production of hybrid shop formats and technological innovations as, for example, the innovative vending machines for Louis Vuitton fashion bags in New York. This rapidly evolving retail landscape also forms a fruitful ground for young entrepreneurs and independents with their allure lying in novelty and personal touch.
“People will not stay at home”
Despite the many technological advances, Kahraman is certain of people returning as it was proven with their experience in China, although impacted by the pandemic and lockdowns first, now quickly recovering. Through more educated customers, companies and brands become more competitive which, in turn, acts as positive motivator. Repurposing, mixed-use projects with omnichannel players and reintroducing variety into high streets, especially across Europe, should be key factors for future retailers.
“Product, speed, service”
The customer ultimately decides when and where to buy and the retail market must react, engage and adapt to certain shifts and changes. As Kahraman emphasizes, retailers, commercial real estate companies, investors, and landlords need to cooperate in order to stay ahead. The inevitable merging and implementation of digitalized environments and tools can be a lever to power the circular journey of re-engaging customers and connecting back to shops, improving convenience, speed, and communication – the top factors drawing people back in.
You can watch the uncut version of the latest ACROSS Retail Talks here:
The next ACROSS Retail Talks about exciting, European topics are on their way. We will keep you posted.