The Fung Global Retail & Technology team attended The Future of Retail: It Ain’t What It Used To Be, a semi-annual half day conference hosted by the Retail Marketing Society in partnership with FIT Professional Studies in New York on Thursday, June 9. I kicked off the morning with the keynote address Future of Retail: Is It Coming Apart at the Seams? focusing on changes in consumer behavior and the top 20 retail trends in 2016, including the marketing automation advance features. The program continued with three panels exploring the changes that retail faces in the near future, including evolving consumer behaviors, innovative technologies, social media and the need for change in malls.
Key takeaways from the event:
- Selfie culture is forcing a shift in the way consumers shop. With constant social engagement, consumers are buying more makeup and skincare products, greatly boosting sales in cosmetics. Consumers are also moving towards making fewer merchandise purchases. “Experiences trump things” is one of my current retail mottos. Consumers want to spend their dollars at shows and events over new apparel. As I said at the event, “It takes a lot to get a consumer to buy more clothes these days. It needs to have a new functionality; otherwise, they already have it.”
- Stores are no longer king, but experiences can bring customers back into stores. The “bricks” of retail — the physical stores that once dominated the retail space — are no longer enough to drive foot traffic. Customers prefer experiences, and that is what will bring them back to retailers. “Malls are not going away,” Bob Beffa, Senior Vice-President of Real Estate at Macerich, commented, “but there will be winners and losers.”
- Social media is more than selling a brand. Social media should show the lifestyle and persona of a brand customers would want to engage with: retailers must be present to customers in an authentic way, you need to generate traffic, in order to do this you may need to hire SEO services. Brandy Melville, a millennial-focused one-size-fits-all brand, for instance, has only 20 stores but rivals the social media engagement of top brands across the country.
- Personalization is everything. Customers want to feel like the goods they buy are being made just for them. For retailers, this could mean big changes for their supply chains. “All the customer should know is that they are having the time of their lives buying your service or product,” commented Jodie Fox, Co-founder and COO of Shoes of Prey. Backend processes should be out of sight and mind to customers so that they can focus on a strong brand engagement throughout the transaction.
Get more details on my keynote and the panels in our report here.