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Our execution with Buick was part of the yearly Wired pop-up store

Over the next few posts, I’ll be discussing five key predictions for the evolution of retail in 2021. The first is the expansion of experiential retail.

As the pandemic eases, people will begin gathering again, at everything from theme parks to live music events — and retailers will need to participate actively in this return to public life.

That means going to where people are, not just waiting for them to come to your stores.

Nobody buys a ticket to a store, but people do buy tickets to auto shows and rock concerts and sporting events — they invest in…


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Happy 2021! Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be exploring some key predictions for the coming year — but first, I wanted to take a quick look back at some of the lessons we’ve learned from the past eleven months of the pandemic.

Perhaps the most obvious is that there’s no strategy that can completely overcome the challenges of a shutdown. No matter how stellar your business is, being unable to open your store is always going to be crippling.

Still, there are some differentiators. Companies that already had a strong digital relationship with their customers were much…


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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…


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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…


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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…


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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…


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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…


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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…


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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…


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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…

Andy Austin

A geek with a retail operations and customer experience background

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