"L'Angleterre est une nation de boutiquiers." Some think Napoleon was dismissing the English but it was a statement of the school of the bleeding obvious. Napoleon saw power flowing from commerce. Today England is a retail powerhouse and not just with Aldi style discounting, Primark fast fashion or ASOS’ revolutionary social shopping signalling retail’s powerful status in the UK. We are just very, very good at it. Check out London where the shopping experience rivals anything New York, Paris or even (my favourite) Tokyo, provides. People travel from all over the world to shop in Knightsbridge, visit Regent Street or explore some of the alternative (cough) shopping found in Camden. The shopping experience is dramatically changing in London, spearheaded by new technologies where brand and customer experience mix the physical with the virtual.
Look around and you will see Code Halos driving point of sale innovation as well as enabling co-creation or new commercial models between customers, retailers and producers. To see the impact on the shopping experience travel to prime retail estate in London, Regent Street. Crown Estates own Regent Street (on behalf of her Majesty…a wise old bird) and have launched a new app targeted at shoppers that swarm its street. The entire street of shops (Hamleys, Burberrys, Banana Republic etc) working through Crown Estates are installing beacon aware technology to deliver discounts, new product promotions and other alerts to shoppers as they walk past their stores. Some have gone even further and put the beacon inside the mannequin to give us a very visual picture of what a code halo looks like. The app connects the mannequin to the shopper and reveals what its wearing, what it costs and BTW it can also shoot a discount to your phone and tell the shopper exactly how long it will take to walk to that part of the store to check it out.
In retail the customer model is clearly changing while the transaction model is pretty stable (a function of basket size and margin). The customer model is the retail battleground and focuses on frequency and lifetime value from each and every customer that buy stuff. Success depends upon what sort of customer experience a retailer delivers. I would argue that the customer experience is critical to retail success (duh) but that success increasingly flows from the retailer’s ability to engage with customers in-store and online, between the physical and the virtual. The customer’s journey skips across many channels and platforms before they actually visit the shop, during the trip itself and afterwards, when they get home. Successful retailers are the ones that marshal the right customer insight (data) around their business without being too creepy about it what they give back. Any retailer will ask themselves if they have a single, integrated view of the customer no matter where they are in their retail journey. Are they following code halos across devices, across platforms, from the physical to the virtual? And here is the biggie—are they open to collaborate with consumer product companies and share consumer data and by default power? Because this will be the battleground for retail once the products we buy get smart and consumers communicate directly their likes/dislikes to the product company that manufacturers them. Watch this space.
PS. Anyone else get a gruesome reminder of the 1980s through the word “Mannequin”?