JWT’s trends for retail in 2013 suggests that retailers who find a way to integrate will have a “killer brand.” It has experts suggesting that one needs to be where the customer is, with both your messaging and your product. Consumers today are both online and offline, and sometimes both – online while shopping offline. Online they are sharing, friend validating, researching, learning and developing a point of view. Offline there is touching, brand comparing and brand associating. All of this drives the brand of the future. Finding the formula to leverage that online/offline dynamic is critical.Clearly a lot of international retailers are truly thinking that the online/offline dynamic is not only important but also promising. Colliers International’s recent report referenced in The Age on March 14th regarding retail space needs found that international retailers would establish 235 new stores and look for 220,000 square metres of Australian retail space within the next five years. Twenty-eight international retailers – excluding luxury brands and big box users such as Ikea and Costco – are either actively looking for sites to set up shop in Australia or already in the process of rolling out stores locally, the report found.
Nearly 40 percent of these were from the US, with retailers such as Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21 and J.Crew currently looking for space. UK retailers (22 percent) and Canadian retailers (13 percent) also dominated the overseas invasion, along with Sweden and Japan (6 percent each). What ever way you cut it, it says something about retailers wanting to have physical presence.
The report revealed the influx is predominantly coming from the fast fashion and general apparel sectors, reflecting Australian consumers’ appetite for on-trend, disposable fashion. They are coming to Australia when many would have thought that an online presence would be there preferred strategy, given the costs associated with bricks and mortar. Why you ask?
Perhaps there is a real need for a physical experience over simply the virtual. A survey of 1,016 adults in the U.S. and U.K., conducted last November using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool, found that the constantly connected Millennials are especially apt to feel this way. More than 7 in 10 say they increasingly crave experiences that stimulate their senses, and more than half feel increasingly disconnected from the physical world. Getting the right mix of experiences for retailers is clearly going to be fundamental. This also applies to online only retailers with suggestions that more and more of them are likely to experiment with some form of physical space such as pop-up shops (or trucks).
While online retailers keep trying to get people to buy online, we need to remind ourselves why people love to shop at stores. There is a ritual at play here, and retailers need to feed it, and feed it well.