Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Retail Doctoring

This morning found me up and about at what felt like the middle of the night but was actually 5.30am, getting ready for a business breakfast in North Sydney.

When day actually did break and I could see sufficiently to ensure I hadn't substituted eyeliner for lipstick and didn't have my dress tucked into the back of my pantyhose, I choofed off to the Harbour View Hotel to listen to some fabulous speakers on the topic of Retail Trends.

First up was Dr Sean Sands from the Australian Centre for Retail Studies, talking about the key trends that will impact the retail industry over the next ten years. You can find out more here.

The key point seemed to boil down to that ol' chestnut - LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. Amazingly, some major retailers still don't do that.

This frustrates me no end. I often walk into stores where the manager has seen a need to occupy children so that she can keep her customers who shop with kids in the store longer. She has brought in the box of broken Lego and a few dog-eared books from home.

Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a gorgeous refit when the thing that's really getting the customers in and keeping them there spending, is a box of one-armed Barbies and one-legged Buzz Lightyears?

Really, is that how head office wants to project their brand? Apparently so, judging by the number of frustrated sales staff and store managers who say that head office refuses to consider a safe, branded, space-effective play solution.

Brian Walker, the Retail Doctor, elaborated on this point by highlighting the disconnect between head office and the coal face of the retail business. Brian's a bit of a guru in the retail space, teaching retailers how to implement retail strategies that work. You can learn more about him here.

Finally we heard from Roy Tavenor from Red Design Group. He has just come back from exotic Istanbul where retailers are ripping it up with fantastic store design and a 'green' approach to retailing. Roy talked about the growth of private brands (thanks for the Aldi wine tip!) and the downsizing of the mega-store, as well as the importance of going as 'green' as possible to reduce our carbon footprint.

All up, an interesting morning and I strongly recommend, if you are a retailer, stopping by the speaker's websites and asking them for their presentation notes.

Then, because there is not a hotel on this planet that can produce a decent coffee or tea from a pot that's been on a warmer for 2 hours, I topped off my virtuous educational morning with a skim chai latte from Greenwood in the recently-awol sunshine. Luvverly!

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