Monday, May 5, 2014

Redefining Retail - Find Success Both Online & Offline

Retail industry experts, Jones Lang LaSalle predict that US retail is trending to have a 20% growth in volume in 2014 – although, the industry growth will go beyond the footprints of the mall and e-commerce sites.

In a crowded market space, retailers are fighting for limited consumer dollars, both the big brands and independent merchants are looking for flexibility in the way that they reach consumers. As a graduate student in Medill's Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University, I've been following the transformations happening in the retail industry and the trend toward helping consumers achieve the "Total Retail" experience they are looking for - the expectation one unified retail experience. Shoppers continue to demand the right merchandise, at the right time and the right price; but yet, they want unique retail experiences, not all aspects of shopping is considered an errand; and they want the opportunity to discover, but make it easy, bring the discovery to them.

Ryan Lawler of recently published a great feature on Storefront titled Airbnb For Retail’ Startup Storefront Raises $7.3M From Spark Capital, Expands To LA. New to the retail scene since 2012, Storefront provides retailers with the flexible "pop-up" retail solution they are looking for, through Storefront's online platform they connect those who have empty commercial spaces in highly trafficked areas with merchants who wish to make their goods available without making major investments in opening up a permanent retail space. They're working with high-end fashion retailers, massive e-commerce merchants to the small business Etsy designer. Storefront is leading a new emerging trend that helps retailers get closer to offering the "Total Retail" solution and capital investors are noticing; Spark Capital recently sweetened the pot by investing about $7.5 million with the startup.

A beautiful combination of both concepts, Birchbox’s first-ever pop-up shop, 
Birchbox Local, opened for business in New York’s Chelsea Market on September 12.

Some consumers are pressed for time, but don’t want to miss out learning about the latest and greatest products. High-end sample subscription services are the changing how consumers are discovering and experiencing new products. Birchbox describes themselves as a discovery-commerce platform redefining the retail process by offering consumers a personalized way to discover, sample, shop and learn about the best products and brands available. Don't dismiss this business model, Birchbox was named one of the Most Innovative Companies in 2014 by Fast Company magazine. Lindsay Lavine explains in the article how Birchbox grew from 600 monthly subscribers to more than 800,000, with more than 9 million boxes shipped in less than four years.

Are you ready to be a transformative leader in retail?
  • Redefine: Be innovative in your determination for the appropriate distribution channels to reach core customers.
  • Be Everywhere: Instead of controlling where a consumer has to go to find a product, there’s a shifted to give consumers access to products and services when and where they want it. Online retailers benefit from pop-up experiences, while brick-and-mortar retailers’ reach a more potential customers through a dynamic online presence.
  • Promote Discovery: Break through the crowded retail landscape by encouraging discovery and experiencing, with a trial subscription service to a trigger event pop-up shop. 
In a post-recession time when consumer dollars are still limited; retailers who are innovative in their efforts to impress their customers are often rewarded – by being where and when they need your solution, offering an opportunity to experience the product and by engaging with them online, as much as you would in an offline space.

Dawn Pyne is an award-winning account manager and merchandiser with years of success in managing key strategic aspects of marketing plans, new product launches and in-store retail program executions with global retail partners, American Greetings, Walmart, Target, Apple and CVS. Current M.S. Candidate for Integrated Marketing Communications at Medill - Northwestern University (2015) and has advanced degrees in both art and design.

Feel free to contact me on Twitter at @dawnpyne or through LinkedIn.

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