Right on time at 3 PM (CET) on May 19, 2021, ACROSS Editor Reinhard Winiwarter opened the ACROSS Retail Talks on the topic “What’s new in Retail?”. He handed over to moderator Klaus Striebich, Managing Director of RaRE Advise and Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board, who touched on the buzzwords that are currently shaping the industry: placemaking, mixed-use projects, local supply, digitization, platform economy, omni-channeling, community-building, etc. He also pointed out that the online audience can ask questions to the panelists, and many participants actively used this this opportunity.
Apropos panelists: Julia Anna Lehnert (Director Development Germany at the AmRest-Group), Laurent Poffet (Director Global Real Estate at MF Brands Group) as well as Silvio Kirchmair (CEO of umdasch The Store Makers and Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board) formed the panel.
“Act fast and adopt afterwards”
Lehnert answered the opening question about the most important key learnings after 15 months living with the pandemic by saying, “Speed up the decision-making process. Stay flexible and set up a new kind of communication.” Kirchmair, who called the Covid-19 crisis a stress test, replied in a similar vein, “Act fast and adopt afterwards.“ Poffet ,on the other hand, emphasized that it becomes more and more about brand value, “We need to explain to customers why they should buy a particular product–whether it’s in the brick-and-mortar sector or online.” To this end, retailers need to work on their digital fitness.
A Starbucks with co-working spaces
Not only digitization has become essential for survival, but also health & safety measures and personalized purchasing offers, as the panelists unanimously underlined. Furthermore, the time is ripe for innovative and surprising concepts. Lehnert mentioned, for example, that a Starbucks recently opened in Tokyo that also offers co-working spaces.
More demanding or more patient customers?
After half an hour of lively discussion, moderator Striebich moved on to asking the panelists questions from the audience. One online participant wanted to know what criteria are now decisive in the selection of new sites. Against this background, Poffet mentioned the political and economic stability of a market as well as a positive assessment of potential. Lehnert is now focusing on outdoor spaces for gastro locations.
Another participant asked whether customers have become more patient or demanding in the face of Covid-19. According to Kirchmair, they became more demanding–but this development took place regardless of the virus. Lehnert had the opposite experience. Customers were and are grateful that the restaurant industry opened for takeaways. They considered it a sign of normality to take a walk with a Starbucks cup in hand.
Excellent store experience at Nike
Finally, Striebich asked the panelists about their personal new retail favorites. For Poffet, this is clearly Nike with its high brand value and excellent store experience. Kirchmair noted that most of the Nike stores in Europe are fitted out by umdasch The Store Makers. Kirchmair himself names the Bründl Sports stores in Austria as his favorites. For him, they fulfill the claim of “acting as a host for your customer”. Lehnert did not want to commit herself to one specific example. She was generally pleased that people want to socialize again and that gastronomy as “places to meet” can meet this demand.
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The next ACROSS Retail Talks about exciting, European topics are being planned right now. We will keep you posted.