HomeFEATURESPart three: NZ Retail celebrates its 70th anniversary

Part three: NZ Retail celebrates its 70th anniversary

Tilly Lloyd, co-owner Unity Books

As specialist retailers at the intersection of the creative and commercial arts, bookselling is the same art form it always was – a savvy and organised hum in the background providing a foreground for the essential triumgynate of riveting stock, happy customers, and knowledgeable-but-not-pointy-headed staff.

Changes since the 1980s seem four-pronged: books themselves – who writes, designs and supplies them; local and global political / cultural shifts; the microfiche to Twitter revolution; and solid customers being also solid (offshore) online consumers.

If there were no laws for 24 hours, how would you use the situation to improve your business?
Hopefully this would be in the spring and after New Zealand has decriminalised some other mind-alterants. We could go on paid Arbor Leave to northern Northland and plant a few hectares of Erythroxylum coca for our shop’s Willis Street EQ kit.

Chris Quin, chief executive Foodstuffs North Island

There’s no doubt [retail] is more professionalised and now attracts the best and brightest. That has steadily improved the quality of the industry: inefficiencies have been ground down, new systems developed, long-term strategies implemented.

For supermarkets, the success of that upskilling of our most valuable resource – our people – can be seen in our strength of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Major changes include greater transparency of competition, and how easy it is for customers to get value that matters to them.

There’s also the expectation that despite being a long way from anywhere, New Zealanders should have the latest innovations. We’re no longer stuck at the bottom of the world – we’re the first to see the sun and competitive on a global scale. Digital technologies have allowed us to keep pace while also making customers’ lives easier. Likewise they are sharing more information with us, which we have to respect and protect but are also using to do a better job for them.

If your business survived the next 70 years, what would you expect it to look like?

What I’d say first is it’s not a case of “if” but after we survive the next 70 years, by when we’ll have more stores, more customers, more suppliers. New Zealanders won’t stop needing solutions to their home and lifestyle needs, entrepreneurs won’t stop making them, and we’ll still be giving shoppers what matters to them to get the most out of life, and still offering them strong but differentiated and competing brands. We’ve always been about customer service and the next 70 years has to be driven by nothing but the customers’ needs and wants.

What will our stores look like in 2088? Based on current trends I expect they’ll place even more emphasis on freshness, with tables in-store, as we’re already seeing overseas. I think it’s likely shoppers will pay as they go, and I’d also be surprised if re-shelving wasn’t automated. Food is personal and inspirational – and always will be – and we’ll keep delivering to the different moments and occasions that arise over the coming decades.

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