10 Things We Learnt At Inside Retail Live

The Tiny Hunter team headed to last month’s ‘Inside Retail Live – Festival of Retail ideas’ to discover the latest trends, ideas, and challenges in the retail industry. The event welcomed speakers from global brands including Lush, Facebook, Sky, and Commonwealth Bank among many others, who shared their wisdom with the packed auditorium. If you couldn’t make it, have no fear – here is our roundup of the best bits:

1. Physical retail is changing

With online shopping becoming more prolific, there is a lot of discussion in the industry around the death of physical retail. But the general consensus at Inside Retail Live was that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Physical retail is here to stay, but it must be aligned with the online offering.

There also needs to be a clear reason for people to visit. As president of consumer products and Innovation at Fox Television Group, Jim Fielding, puts it: ‘There needs to be a return to shopkeeper mentality’. We need to give people a reason to come into the store. We need to give them a reason that makes them come back.

2. Say hello to retailtainment

Fielding, and many of the other speakers, talked a lot about the merge of retail and experiential. The stores that succeed in the future will combine storytelling, smart marketing, products that answer a true consumer need, and an experience that visitors can’t wait to share. Stores that give a true sense of discovery will be particularly appealing and the term ‘retailtainment’ was widely adopted to summarise this move towards a more emotive and engaging retail experience.

This is closely linked to the idea of ‘showing not telling’, with John Vary, innovation manager at UK retail giant John Lewis, sharing the example of when it created a connected home at one of its flagship stores. Nespresso, Sonus, Samsung etc, were all involved, showcasing their products in a real, working environment and showing customers the positive impact a connected home could have on their lives.

3. Amazon is here to disrupt

Almost every panel and presentation mentioned Amazon at one point or another, and its imminent landing on Australian soil. For some it seems to be a scary prospect, for others an opportunity. This is particularly true for SMEs who will be able to use Amazon as a way to reach new customers with minimal marketing spend and financial overheads.

It became clear that one of the biggest ways that Amazon will disrupt the Australian market is with its delivery options. Retailers across the country must work on faster delivery times and challenge Amazon Prime with their own innovative delivery schemes.

But Amazon isn’t the only one disrupting. Those who succeed in the future of retail will have disruption at the heart of their strategies. If you don’t disrupt – you will be disrupted.

4. Make meaningful connections

Dr Jenny Brockis, the Brain Fitness doctor, reminded us that our brains are wired to do three things: keep safe, find reward, and conserve energy. Retailers need to create experiences that relate to these three natural human instincts. Another interesting anecdote from Jenny was the paradox of choice, which directly relates to conserving energy. We love choice, but too much is overwhelming. It’s certainly something worth remembering.

5. Curation and data

Stefaan Le Clair, managing director of Berenike global fashion management, and other speakers spoke a lot about curation and how customers expect to see products that are suited to them, and which are complementary to each other. They want to feel as though the hard work has been taken out of the decision making process, and that you know them. Think about Netflix and how it knows you, your taste, and what you want. It all relates back to that human desire to conserve energy and big data is going to play a huge part in making this a reality.

6. Transparency

Today’s customer wants to see that their needs are being met, and they’re willing to wait longer if you are transparent with this. Domino’s Pizza Tracker is a very compelling example of how people can see more of what’s being done for them. Airfare website Kayak shows which airline brands it is searching, rather than simply saying ‘please wait’. People are more likely to buy when they know what is going on behind the scenes.

7. Employ on attitude

Skills are not hard to learn, but attitude is. Retail brands need to start employing on attitude and cultural fit rather than just experience. This is particularly true as we move towards a more experiential in-store environment, as your people are integral in delivering this. Lush director Peta Granger explained how the company takes the same standpoint with new hires as it does with every business decision – ‘If it’s not a f*ck yeah, it’s a f*ck no’.

8. Innovate, don’t just improve

We loved this, from Commonwealth Bank national manager, Jerry Macy. He says that our future is based on disruption and that although Australia is innovating, it isn’t innovating enough. In fact it’s just about above the global threshold. According to Macy, businesses need to encourage employees to try and fail, pilot new ideas quickly and assess their validity, and adapt products and services to meet this new world. We need to stop simply improving, and start innovating. Innovate in more than one area for maximum impact.

9. Mobile is alway first

Martin Barthel, global head of ecommerce and retail strategy at Facebook, and Kate Box, global head of retail at Facebook Australia, took to the stage to discuss the impact of mobile on consumer retail buying decisions. According to stats from the social giant, almost 40% of in store sales have a mobile touchpoint. What this means in practice is that 40% of people heading into store are there to buy something that they’ve already found or researched online. As Box explained “Anyone with a mobile phone can be a disrupter. With a good idea and a mobile phone you have a business.” Paul Harapin VP & GM Asia Pacific & Japan at Domo, also threw out the impressive statistic that (the ever scary!) Amazon converts 50% of sales, versus in-store retail which is just 10%.

10. Learn from others

The entire three days were packed with inspirational real life examples of what’s worked for retailers in countries across the globe. It was a good lesson in general to stay up to date with what’s going on, monitor your competitors, and look for inspiration outside of your exact vertical.

Some of our favourite examples were:

John Lewis interactive sofa studio

Looking to make the experience of buying a sofa more emotive and experiential, John Lewis’s in-house innovation team spent less than $3,000 to create an interactive sofa studio. The company’s in-house innovation team has been established solely to come up with quick, test and learn solutions to company challenges and have complete autonomy. And nine times out of 10, they hit gold.

Mac Makeup and Trolls Movie

Complementary partnerships was a hot topic throughout the conference, and we loved this example. Complementary, yet completely surprising, The Trolls Movie teamed up with Mac make-up for the launch of the a new makeup collection based on the movie.

While an adult’s make-up brand teaming up with a kid’s movie might seem strange at first, it’s really not. The Trolls first came out in the 90s/00s (the generation that are now Mac’s customers) and Mac is known for its crazy looks and bright colours. Mac’s make-up artistes rocked troll-inspired hairstyles and wore the new make-up range, with customers following suit and booking their own troll makeovers. Yep, an experiential approach once again. Here’s an online advert they used to promote the new range.

Rad to the power of sick:

Russel Howcroft, PWC chief creative officer, spoke passionately about the power of copywriting (which we couldn’t agree more with!). He said that the ‘Most important thing in business is a good writer’ and went on to explain that copywriters that can actually make you buy, are incredibly rare. He shared this old, but excellent example which perfectly demonstrated what he means.

We had a fantastic time at Inside Retail Live and walked away brimming with ideas and inspiration. If you’d like to discuss how to make your brand stand out in today’s ever-changing retail market, we’d love to speak to you. Contact us on +61 2 9360 0099 or email us here.