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Retail Conference 2018 - Re-Investing in Bricks and Mortar.

Rebekah McNutt

Bekah (our Marketing Manager) headed along to this year's Retail Conference to soak up some knowledge on both physical and digital retail customer experience.

Hosted by Property Council New Zealand and NZ Council of Shopping Centres this year's Retail Conference was themed around the increasingly blurred lines of brick and mortar vs online in retail.

The term omnichannel is without a doubt something we talk to daily but a common thread in all discussions was the need for NZ brands to truly embrace this to provide customers with relevance. We're now needing to stay relevant to six different generations (that's more than ever before). So how do we please everyone?!

The new consumer is more demanding and their expectations are super high. Ken Hughes (consumer & shopper behaviouralist) dubbed the term Blue Dot Consumers. Like the pin that represents us on Google Maps, we want everything to revolve around us.The speakers throughout the day covered some great ways to do exactly that for our audience:

Be Authentic

Creating a story that is uniquely yours will mean your competition can't replicate it. It's ok to tell this story continuously, keeping it interwoven within marketing. Cassie Roma, Head of Content Marketing at the Warehouse Group (and previously ANZ, Air New Zealand and NZME) said; often we get stuck in the data but really we just need to use it to find the human insight that will inform our stories. Focusing on long-term strategies rather than vanity metrics.

Make it Personal

Consumers want to buy something that is truly theirs - personalised goods. But more than that, we're expecting hyper-personalisation - for us, in the moment, now. Just like how Spotify Running plays your own music but by measuring your pulse it's able to serve up the best tracks to match pace.

Communicate Contextually 

The brands that we remember are ones that have come through for us in moments of need. Through geo-location and push notifications we can reach our consumers at the perfect time to make their lives easier. A great example is Air New Zealand's intuitive app that provides us with the real-time flight updates, in-app boarding passes, and even coffee ordering to beat the queue!

Excite with Experiences

The emerging generations (Y, Z and Alpha) are valuing experiences over physical possessions. They'd much rather spend money on things they'll remember so we need to create moments that do just that (and allow people to share these to their networks). Ken Hughes mentioned the Melbourne startup Jafflechutes - toasted sandwiches that are dropped down to you via a parachute in the streets of Melbourne city. In this case, it's not all about the end product but the process leading up to capturing the jaffle in your hands. So when planning a retail experience we need to think - will it make people reach for their phones?

Convenience = CX

The speed of delivery and ease - what we would call convenience has quickly become the best weapon in customer experience today. Online shopping channels need to ensure fulfillment is seamless and offer the quickest possible delivery in comparison to competitors. For physical retail store's digital can be used to improve the shoppers' in-store experience. Sephora's Virtual Artist App allows shoppers to experiment and try makeup, coming in store with a pre-curated idea of what works best for them. Sephora staff then step in to help with that final decision. 

What came through in the conference and a clear and definite theme for this year is the difficult balance of online and offline shopping.  As we see voice-enabled purchasing for the basics, we see mall and retail needing to step it up for the premium. As Chris Fletcher, Head of Retail at Spark said: If online shopping is time saved then retail shopping must be time well spent.

P.S. Thank you Lee-Anne Anderson, General Manager of Dunedin's Golden Centre Mall for enabling our attendance!