When this article was first written, it was ready for publication pre COVID-19. Yet how the world has changed in just a few short weeks. For nearly five weeks, all our retail clients, other than those deemed essential services shut their doors, both physically and virtually. It has been challenging for us all, and that challenge will continue as we recover from the economic impact of this crisis.
Here in New Zealand we are now out of lockdown, and alongside our neighbour’s Australia, we have moved into what will be a new retail environment. In some ways retail will remain the same, yet in many ways it has and will continue to change dramatically.
At GDM it’s important that we keep on top of retail trends and look at where the market is heading. Most especially in these ever evolving and uncertain times.
COVID-19 has had an effect on the way we shop, physical stores have closed, so we have had to switch our purchasing to online. E-commerce has played a critical role for the retail sector and will drive lasting change to consumer behaviour. Even after physical stores do start to open again, it is likely that consumers will return, however digital will play a larger role.
Consumers will come to stores for an experience. They will be seeking new product discoveries and inspiration, knowledge and customer care from staff. Rather than focusing on purchasing products in store, they will want to focus on using them, understanding them, and potentially becoming brand loyal.
Our team at GDM have identified some key trends that we see coming through this year, those who lead the way will have already put themselves in a strong position pre COVID-19, and will have the confidence to recover from its economic impact.
It’s all about a circular economy
A circular economy is one which eliminates waste and creates a continual use of resources. Retailers are looking for sustainable solutions. Consumers are savvy and becoming more conscious of where their products come from, how they are produced and transported. They feel it’s important to align their values with the brands they like. The same goes for the stores they are sold in. By adopting more sustainable principles, brands will find new ways to engage with their existing customers and reach new audiences.
EuroShop 2020 highlighted clever ways to improve sustainability from organic grass clothes hangers through to digital checkouts and reusable exhibition stand systems. A favourite of ours was the use of one hundred percent recycled acrylic glass to become recycled plastic sheets. These sheet materials, tubes and rods will produce a unique look in any space.
Closer to home (and our award-winning Rodd & Gunn store), Country Road Chadstone have created a fit-out based on sustainable design without compromising style. It is a beautiful store with benchtops made from recycled yoghurt containers, carpet from fishing nets and wall cladding from recycled paper.
At GDM, we are continually looking at ways to ensure our products are more sustainable, we are very aware of the impact that building materials and energy use have on the environment. Our board suppliers are increasing the eco-friendly content in our raw materials. Plus we reduce, recycle and reuse waste wherever we can, upholding our principles of sustainability.
Digital and physical stores are merging
Within New Zealand and Australia, the restrictions placed due to the COVID-19 lockdown have fast-tracked the merging of digital and physical stores. Now more than ever, retailers must be strong in both channels.
Into the future we will also see more hybrid stores, bringing physical and digital experiences together. Cashier less stores like Amazon Go are especially appealing to younger generations as technology transforms the way customers interact with brands. Shopping has become more about the experience and tedious functions like waiting in line to pay are being removed.
Were you one of the many new customers who ordered their groceries via click and collect during lockdown? The demand was huge with many customers having to wait at least a week before they could pick up their groceries. GDM have worked with some of our retailers to design self-service checkouts, in-store click and collect pick up lockers and photo booth kiosks, cutting down on what once considered the mandatory part of shopping – queuing.
Experiential stores will thrive
Although the traditional concept of brick & mortar stores are on the decline, a combination of online and physical stores are quickly becoming popular. With physical stores playing a more experience and educate role, rather than purchase.
Amazon 4-star stores are perhaps at the head of this trend. They fill their stores with a selection of products based on local purchase preferences and online customer reviews. A customer can see and try what is on trend right now, in their own neighbourhood.
GDM client Torpedo7 likes to create in-store experiences for their customers. Most recently, with GDM’s help, they created an interactive bridge for kids to practice riding their bikes over in store, giving them a chance to test out the fit and feel of bikes in a fun way.
Retail and restaurants are merging
Retailers are also increasingly focusing on food service. Food retailers, department stores, fashion boutiques and bookstores are now integrating this into their stores. Again, it is about creating a unique and enjoyable experience for customers. The term “grocerant” didn’t exist a few years ago, yet today it is becoming more prevalent. Grocerants are supermarket – restaurant hybrids, incorporating sandwich stores, cafes and even full-blown restaurants within the supermarket environment. They value convenience and affordability above all else.
GDM have worked with several stores who have taken on this concept. Liquorland Boutique opened in 2019 and has been set up so they can host regular tasting events for their customers. Meanwhile, in 2017, Rodd & Gunn opened The Lodge Bar in Queenstown, The Lodge Bar merges the clothing boutique with a stunning restaurant, to provide a unique shopping experience.
While there is a considerable amount of uncertainty around retail and the wider economy right now, our team at GDM are up for the challenge. From necessity comes innovation and we have some of the most innovative thinkers in the business. Give us a call today to find out how we can help you.