Who’s your pick for retail “personality” of the year? Who’s someone who stood out and made some bold and/or smart moves?
It’s a close call between Rod Duke and Jamie Whiting. Who doesn’t love the man who delivered exceptional men’s fashion retail through Barkers (and the individualised store experiences) and international excitement through Top Shop; however Rod is my pick. I love listening to Rod’s storytelling about how he built his retail empire, but more importantly his proof to the retail pundits that a high/low strategy can win the hearts and minds of shoppers if you build a strong retail offer and continue to deliver. He is real, he tells it as it is and he keeps it lean. A personality willing to take on such a visible takeover attempt and continue to speak his mind about the rejection - priceless.
Which retail company stood out in 2015?
I am going to pick two for completely different reasons. (1) Kmart for bringing irresistibly low prices to life in a brilliant environment that straddles many different shopper groups all across New Zealand, effectively democratising homeware trends and fashion. Just the sheer number of inspired Instagram accounts bringing to life homeware porn for Aussies and Kiwis is exceptional. And the group is growing and delivering strong financial results in this part of the world. (2) I Love Ugly for making their mark on the international landscape, for creating provocative advertising to get eyes up (whether you like the campaigns or not) and for enabling a bunch of 40+ men to relive their youthfulness in a fashion-forward way.
Who are some ones to watch in 2016?
All the international players from Tous to Topshop and Zara to Mecca Maxima. They are going to bring a new level of merchandising and experience to our shores that will make it a retail wonderland for shoppers but a tougher trading environment for local retailers. Oh, and I can’t wait for Kit & Ace to arrive in NZ (I am very, very excited as I love this retailer).
Who are some great smaller town/regional retailers who punched above their weight?
Just reviewing the NZ Retail TopShop 2015, [the] winners are inspirational and evidence that no matter where you are located, exceptional service and a passion for what you do can prove very engaging and very successful.
Who made the best comeback in retail in 2015?
This might be a weird pick but I think it’s outstanding that Nest Homewares has returned to having a retail footprint in NZ. Also, not exactly a comeback, but My Food Bag [is] going from strength to strength in 2015 both here and in Australia. Outstanding.
Who had the biggest fall from grace in 2015?
Unfortunately there is a lot of mediocre retailers “piling it high” without a financial understanding of what makes a retail business tick; not being in touch with their shopper or the wider market; and [showing] a lack of care, love or understanding of their craft. Sadly (for them) they are no longer a part of our landscape.
Best retail innovation?
The rise of fast, casual dining – think Burger Burger, Better Burger, The Food Collective... the list goes on. So much brilliant fresh and tasting eating integrated into our everyday landscape for a fraction of the price.
Most overhyped issue/innovation in retail that actually didn’t matter that much?
Data – not that it didn’t matter, just very few retailers have engaged with the power it can deliver to their business in localising and personalising their offer. Beacons would be a close second, but largely based on the lack of strategic thinking by retailers to maximise the data they have to deliver better retail.
What issues/ideas should retailers have at the front of their mind for 2016?
Getting to grips with what Smart Data is (not Big Data), how to wrangle it and how they need to use it to power their business. CX (Customer Experience) Retailing is going to be a big opportunity for at least the next three to five years – how retailers are going to understand their shopper, the shopper journey and amplify and enhance the experience at every touchpoint on the path to purchase.
What’s your big ambitions/ideas for retail in 2016? What do you want to see happen?
More retailers embracing CX Retailing and integrating this into their strategy with authenticity and believability. There are far too many retailers implementing crappy campaigns, tactics or initiatives that have no substance and then wondering why they are not winning shoppers’ hearts, minds and wallets. Shoppers are very clever and they can see through the tricks and the lies to find those retailers who deliver on what they say they do.