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DAY 1 of FOST - Culture, physical retail & Amazon Julie Vens - De Vos - October 12, 2017

Tours Wunderman Wlove

Some insights caught during nexxworks Future of Shopping tour

I’m one of the tour guides on our Future of Shopping Tour, which has been a whirlwind of trends, tools and insights into the future of retail and shopping so far. My plan is to share my key insights from this wonderful trip with you on a regular basis. This is part one. Stay tuned for more in the coming days.

Compete on culture, not category

Yannis K. kicked off with a love story. As a brand, product or shop the challenge is not to be liked, but to be wanted. Consumers want a brand if it cares about them, knows them and creates value for them. If you're selecting something extremely important in your life, you don't want to give in on price, but rather on whether you love it, want it, crave it. That's the battlefield where you want to play as a business. It requires a customer obsession mindset like Amazon has. It's about having "exceeding expectations" as a baseline attitude. As category kings are emerging, it might be smarter to focus on wantedness rather than features or price. Make people feel part of the culture of your brand, and chances are likely your sales will benefit generously. 

Physical retail is dead, long live physical retail! 

The 'OR' question is far gone right today. It's not about OR digital OR physical. Omnichannel is the new standard and here in New York business already thrive in this new normal. Tons of examples gave reason to believe in physical retail because they approached it, starting from the omnichannel point of view of the customer. As Beth Ann said: you can't afford to care WHERE consumers buy your products, you just have to believe that the total experience that you bring, will keep on leading them to you. Scary, but without it, you just don't survive. 

New York proved us today that this might be the Best of Times ahead as companies embrace the new rules of the game. Samsung 837 is an iconic experience store where you can't even buy product, but only experience what their technology can do. they call it their "technology playground and cultural destination". Try out a dozen of VR experiences, imagine living in a smart home and stop by when they have another immersive event they're livestreaming. 

Storefront rents short term retail space. They want to make retail accessible and view retail space owners as partners. They shake hands to create value for the retailer and eventually the shopper!  

Shoppers still love to shop in a shop. However, if you want be wanted, you do have to step up the game and create a unique experience and feeling. As Story approached it: you need to maximize experience / m² instead of $ / m². They see their shop as a magazine and every 6 weeks or so they bring out a new edition. 

Amazon, the emperor of retail

However encouraging these love stories are, they also require to have your foundations rock solid. Shoppers do shop omnichannel and that requires a frictionless, fast and superior experience at each touchpoint. It takes a data strategy, a content team, discipline and a lot of work. Amazon for example might not be the first love brand that pops up, it's a service, brand or shop that is playing the wantedness game véry well. 

Some stats and quotes to keep in mind? In 2017, shoppers have a 1 day (or even less!) delivery expectations, last year that was still 2,6 days. Jeff Bezos's best customer service is the one where the shopper doesn't need to contact you because you already solved his question proactively. Today is not about SEO but about ZEO: about creating zero user interface, the ultimate convenience. 

Summary of the day? Retail is not dead, it's just transforming MASSIVELY. The future isn't just passing you by, it's inviting you to join the party. Make sure you RSVP.

Julie Vens
Julie Vens - De Vos

Julie coordinates the nexxworks Innovation Tours. As a natural communicator with 5 years of experience in a corporate FMCG environment, she fully understands how customers are the true...