Consumer brands aim to grow and engage their audiences further with various product and packaging innovations, yet these efforts often trip up at the last hurdle – in retail.
Often, when undertaking retail audits the same retail barriers and limitations come up. For the exhaustive process brands go through to launch new products, there is nothing more frustrating than to see the latest launch hindered by the retail environment.
As customers, we see brands continue to innovate to meet our expectations. As shoppers, our expectations are evolving far beyond what retailers currently offer. However, the landscape is beginning to shift and the maverick retailers who embrace technology and take risks to create better shopping experiences are avoiding the race to the bottom. In contrast, the retailers who are slow to innovate, continue to simply play in the price war.
We already have smart phones, smart cars, smart products and smart packaging. Smart stores need to grow and get good quick. Of course, technology should be embraced to help those mission based shoppers get in and get out of store more easily. That said, retailers also need to provide new innovations that take advantage of what online shopping can not replicate, like human connection.
‘Sentient spaces’, where physical retail stores truly understand their shoppers are on the rise. Amazon Go, one of the most widely talked about retail innovations, gave store shoppers the ease of taking what they like with the mere scan of their mobile. Time is given back to the shopper as their experience in store becomes more efficient. Great.
Yet, there is opportunity for so much more. Personalisation, transparency, experience and engagement. Though the transaction of handing over our money is becoming easier, retailers still need to provide shoppers an experience that truly delights us as well as making it simple for us to complete a transaction. Less Fagin from Oliver Twist more Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory.
What can confidently be predicted is that eventually, what you do will be reinvented. The saying “innovate or die” would suggest many retailers are choosing death simply by their choice to remain stagnant. There are of course pressing reasons as to why many have not innovated – capital, infrastructure, time. But for those retailers that embrace the possibilities and change, their new and improved customer experience will carry them through years to come.