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Regent Street, London W1 — Saturday, 05 December 2020: Just after the end of lockdown

As England ended its month-long lockdown earlier this month and began vaccinating against COVID-19, Retail Gazette reports that crowds of people celebrated their newfound freedom by shopping at high streets across England, packing London’s Regent Street — even mobbing Harrods.

The images of those crowds shopping in London brought me back to the many times I’ve spent at Liberty, my favorite retailer in the world. They’re the crossroads of the universe to me — their stunning Tudor-style store in London has offered a beautifully curated assortment of product with impeccable service and an unmatched sense of tradition since 1875.

Harrods offers something similar on a much larger scale. Its flagship store, founded in 1849, allows customers to walk in the footsteps of celebrities and royalty — and it offers an unparalleled experience in its food halls and its beautiful, well-stocked shop-in-shops. It’s the Disneyland of shopping, providing the thrill of discovery on a grand scale. …


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A friend of mine recently started taking golf lessons, and he was sent by his golf coach to a local store to get orthotics for his over-pronating left foot. The salesperson at the store took him through an elaborate, well thought out process to evaluate his feet, he tried on some injection molded orthotics, and he was ready to buy — until he was quoted a price: $1,000.

And here’s the thing: the experience in the store was fantastic. The salesperson took his time, gave my friend his full attention, took detailed prints of his feet on parchment paper, explained the anatomy of the foot and what the orthotics could do, and gave my friend as much time as he wanted to try the orthotics on and see what a difference they made. …


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Image: Eataly

Over the past few months, I’ve discussed several challenges retail is facing due to the pandemic, but it’s worth noting that some retail categories are actually thriving in this new normal. One of those is grocery stores.

The Industrious is currently working with a large European grocery chain that’s dealing with an unusual challenge: they now have an opportunity that the rest of retail doesn’t. Their demand isn’t dropping, they have an influx of cash, and they have a chance to move forward and evaluate the next steps in their evolution.

While delivery services are taking away some of their in-store traffic, those services don’t take away their business. So they don’t have as many people walking through their aisles and coming across things that aren’t on their shopping lists — but they’re still going to get their sales. …


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Black Friday this year, like so much of 2020, looks very different from years past. With much of the U.S. locking down again, people aren’t going to be crowding into stores to grab once-in-a-year deals — and that’s a huge loss for most of us as retailers, in more ways than you might realize.

Turning Black Friday deals into a monthlong sale can fill the price/value equation gap, but it doesn’t do anything to replace the Black Friday experience.

We all crave familiar rituals, particularly rituals we associate with a happy childhood — and this year has taken so many of them away from us. …


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Photo Source — National Retail Federation

No fans were allowed at the 84th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club last weekend, but they had another popular place to get their golf fix.

Interest in golf surges during every major tournament, and the PGA TOUR Superstore meets that demand with a complete experience. They’ll fit you for clubs, they’ll give you lessons, they’ve got hitting bays, and they’ve got a putting green in the middle of the store. They also host manufacturer demo days to demonstrate the latest advances in design and technology.

They use their product to offer an experience that creates an emotional connection, anticipates the world outside of the four walls of the store, puts product and merchandise authority at the center — and makes the shopper the star of the show. …


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The year was 2007 and we needed to make video calling over cellular come to life at retail.

Let’s talk about The Mandalorian. The hit show, now in its second season, has been doing groundbreaking work with video walls, using real-time rendering to replace green screens with stunningly realistic virtual sets that surround the actors.

Animation supervisor Hal Hickel said the experience of being in front of those video walls is unforgettable: “It’s incredibly impressive when you first walk out there, because it completely surrounds your peripheral vision, and you really quickly forget that you’re indoors and you’re not out on some planet’s surface.”

That technology is here, it’s affordable — and it can transform the retail experience for your shoppers. …


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Fifty major retail landlords in the UK, including mall giant Hammerson, may soon start basing retailers’ rents on their online sales as well as in-store sales and footfall, according to a recent article in Charged Retail. The plan will lower base rates by at least 30 percent but add a “top up” based on both in-store and online sales.

From the landlords’ perspective, the move is justified by the idea that the mall itself is a marketing tool, helping you become more successful not just because of the in-store experience, but also as a brand multiplier that gets people to buy online. …


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I have a simple question to ask this week: what if a truly innovative retailer were in charge of the election process? How different might things be?

With just days to go until the U.S. election, we’ve all seen the reports of people standing in line to vote for five hours or more. Those same lines were an issue in Wisconsin’s April 7 election — but in the more than six months that have passed since then, nothing’s changed.

You might say, “Sure, but the government’s constrained by bureaucracy and regulations, and they have to satisfy the needs of all these different parties…” But aren’t those the same excuses that get in the way of change at every company? “I can’t do that, it’s too difficult, it’s someone else’s job, it’s not my issue, I’m just in retail operations, we’re siloed.” …


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Nice Process

It’s been a great week for us at The Industrious — we had an opportunity to close the windows, lock the doors, and collaborate on an RFP for a major retailer who thinks outside the box.

The RFP process can seem daunting and frustrating, but having been on both sides of the process, I’m extremely grateful for it. It’s a time-honored tradition that has evolved productively into what it is today: a way to a strip away responding agencies’ personalization and culture and get down to the specifics of delivery details and cost.

And going through that process this past week has been a healthy reminder of our priorities. …


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Still warm out, but not too warm for Santa

The National Retail Foundation (NRF) recently announced its “New Holiday Traditions” campaign, encouraging consumers to shop for the holidays even earlier than usual this year — starting now.

And a recent Bloomberg article looked at several retailers that are doing just that, introducing everything from advent calendars to Christmas decorations at the beginning of October. Michael LeBlanc, a senior advisor at the Retail Council of Canada, said the message is to “shop early and shop often.”

But is this really the best that retailers can do? …

About

Andy Austin

A geek with a retail operations and customer experience background

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