Thanks to the prevalence of e-commerce in the minds of consumers, there is a far lower barrier to entry for smaller retail players to infiltrate and fragment the market.
Technologies like on-demand fulfillment are rewriting the rulebook on how (and where) retailers manage their inventory. Major online marketplaces are capturing an ever-expanding base of global customers, and with it, information about their purchasing habits, and other valuable data. The result is a positive feedback loop of enhanced consumer targeting.
And as new, innovative products proliferate throughout the market, retailers are being forced to reimagine the way they bring their brand story to life. From experiential in-store marketing, to creative partnerships, to taking a fresh look at the customer journey – nearly every retailer, large and small, is having to look at new ways to create an authentic connection with their target audience.
To better understand the strategies these brands are using to navigate the changing playing field, we gathered some of the industry’s most influential trailblazers to discuss retail trends and share thoughts on what’s worked (and hasn’t worked) for their brands. Here are a few insightful takeaways from their discussion at our recent event, Disruption and Innovation: What’s Next for the Global Retail Market?
Data Isn’t Just Digital
Valuable customer data can be gathered from many sources – not just online – says Shep Murray, CEO and Co-founder of Vineyard Vines. Monitoring in-store interactions allows retailers to see how customers respond to every aspect of their journey, from how they engage with garments and displays, to their sizing preferences, and even their path through a store.
Data also has its shortcomings. Analysis paralysis, for one – becoming so overwhelmed by data that you have no idea what to do with it. Retailers have to know when to step away from the numbers and let instinct tell them what to do next.
Philip Krim, CEO of Casper, revolutionized the retail industry by transforming consumers’ personal experience with sleep into products tailored to their well-being. As much as data analysis, and especially customer reviews, have played a fundamental part in their brand’s success, Krim continues to push his organization to identify the right time to use intuition over data.
When Andrew Rosen set out to create his apparel brand, Theory, he was less interested in creating clothing and more-so interested in communicating a lifestyle. He credits a large part of Theory’s success to knowing what the brand is about, and crafting clothing that doesn’t just capture a moment in people’s lives, but rather, their trajectory in life. That takes more than just looking at the numbers. “Don’t let data drive all the decisions,” says Rosen. “Retailers need to have a feel for their customer today and where they’re going to tomorrow.”
Controlling the Consumer Experience
As much as wholesale and retail partnerships offer huge benefits for retail brands, they also pose an enormous challenge when trying to manage a customer’s experience with the brand. Companies may feel like they’re handing all the control over to the partner who may have other business priorities to consider.
“We have great partnerships with wholesale customers,” says Robert Hanson, CEO of designer jewelry brand John Hardy, “but it’s hard to get them to participate in the brand narrative and create that full consumer experience. So we’re using digital marketing in a super integrated way to get the engagement we need.”