New Lifestyle, New Retail
by Adwright, 22 October 18
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
Can we ever keep up?
Keeping up with the pace of change in retail is a daunting task; one day it was word-of-mouth, the next advertising on televisions, then e-commerce, what now? Right now, convergence is the new name of the game as retail business is merging the online and offline; the digital and physical spaces, creating new options for consumers and opportunities for retailers.
‘New retail’ is a process, rather than a market.
Beyond E-commerce: M-commerce
China has been at the forefront of new retail, transcending boundaries and creating the most convenient and seamless experience for consumers. One thing that China has definitely been way ahead than the rest of the world in is M-Commerce- mobile commerce. This is exemplified by ‘WeChat’ and the many WeChat applets (apps within the WeChat app). Imagine chatting with friends, transferring money, shopping, using social media and even checking the crowd density in certain areas, all without leaving one app. It is no wonder it has been dubbed a “super app”.
This is shifting the consumer and retail psychology. As retail and service environments converge, consumers change their behavior. The idea of “going shopping” ceases to be a stand-alone event, rather, shopping becomes part of a wider consumer activity, it is part of an all-encompassing experience. The borders between retail and other brands dissolve, together they build the customer’s experience of “shopping”. Business behaviors will have to adapt to these changes of converging a variety of experiences to stay in the game. If they fail to adapt, this process of natural selection will determine which brands survive this environmental shift.
Integration of retail interfaces
The convergence of interfaces is reshaping consumer behavior as e-commerce integrates with physical spaces and stores, blurring the lines of where and when people shop, work, rest and play. A single place, application or company no longer has a single purpose, it now has a dozen purposes. Places and processes for shopping for instance, is merging with entertainment, travel as well as socializing. (This explains Singapore’s soon-to-be newest gem, or Jewel. The idea behind JEWEL Changi Airport as a lifestyle destination combining play, shopping, dining, accommodation and aviation facilities reflects this new retail concept.) Whether it’s a physical space or online, this alters the way brands need to engage with new customer behaviors and environments.
Changing definition/ experience of a shop
A shop has now become a destination that encompasses an array of experiences. For retailers, this poses a new challenge of redefining what a shop actually is and does. The shop has progressed far beyond the point of mere transaction. Its value has now shifted towards providing quality of service and experiences- what sets this store apart, how easy the online interface is to navigate, encouraging people to want to visit.
Contrary to popular notions that online shops will be the death of physical shops, the embodied experience is what matters increasingly more. People crave tangible real world experiences- they crave quality of service, places to interact and places of relaxation. Experience is a key element for retailers to integrate in their future store strategy. Already in China, we are seeing a rising number of retailers and brands transforming stores into places of entertainment and socializing. For example, the Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI recently opened its largest flagship store in Asia in Shanghai, integrating retail for clothes, furniture and travel accessories with a coffee shop and a bookstore. This Muji store in itself becomes a destination that encompasses an array of experiences including shopping, dining and reading alongside areas to socialize.
Definitions of work, shopping and leisure spaces are becoming increasingly blurred by new retail economies. In order to grow sustainably with the experiential concept, retailers need to aim to develop out-of-the-box quality experiences while ensuring that these experiences are relevant to their key brand values.
Here are four strategies that brick-and-mortar stores and its online presence can use simultaneously to differentiate themselves:
1. Story Telling
Brands are more than just its products. Its physical retail store should showcase its identity, it purpose and history. Share with customers what they mean to the community and let the retail space take shape to create such experiences. This will enable the in-store experience become more immersive through these meaningful exhibitions and storytelling. Brands need to go deep beyond products.
2. Get Phygital
As Chris Sanderson from the Future Laboratory explained – it combines the physical and digital worlds for an experience that is full “immediacy, immersion and interaction”. Be ready to stay relevant to the consumers through their lens and appropriately communicate to them digitally and through its thoughtful and curated physical space.
3. Targeting Emotions
Shoppers are driven by their mood to make a purchase. Therefore shouldn’t it be more relevant to predict the emotions that drive consumers to shop? The retail space can be a place to learn, explore possibilities, receive explanations of product design and share knowledge.
Women’s retailer Finery launched a microsite that matched products with the customer’s mood. By using emotions to drive product choices, the site not only gave users a more immersive and intuitive shopping experience, but it also closed the gap between the physical and digital experience.
4. Get differentiated
Expand on differentiating the store’s identity. Share the brand’s legacy and what the brand truly believes in. E-commerce is important as an extension of the brand’s presence but brand owners should capitalise on the physical experience, and the human possibilities of the brick-and-mortar experience that are irreplaceable. The future of retail lies in enhancing the real-life shopping experience.
Adwright has established itself in the marketing and branding industry, working with a range of clients from local SMEs to global corporations for over 20 years. In this rapidly changing environment, Adwright continues to innovate ways to meet the expectations of clients while staying relevant in the industry. Adwright can help brands keep up by continually engaging in the new retail process whilst staying true to who they are and what they are about, portraying a consistent, recognizable and credible brand even as they change with the times.
Adwright has also made great progress in cementing its reputation as a brand localisation agency as we have worked with a Fortune Global 500 company to communicate its brand in the local context.