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Retail futurist Howard Saunders on the year that was, and the year that will be

  • News
  • January 9, 2017
  • Elly Strang
Retail futurist Howard Saunders on the year that was, and the year that will be

Which retailers flourished in 2016?

I believe 2016 was a year of clarity, of realisation. Retail spaces have been desperately trying to 'compete' with online retail with half-hearted attempts at transitional concepts, such as omnichannel. The fog has lifted. If you want 'stuff' then the internet is where you go. But if you want to experience community, social connection and, yes, FUN, then there's no place better than the real world. So, the retail spaces that have flourished are the food markets, the big brand experiences and the places that encourage a sense of community.

Mood?

2016 has been the moodiest year I can remember. What with Brexit and Trump and the increase in random acts of terrorism, its seems to me that most people have been clenching their teeth all year. I do believe, however, that such pessimism is unfounded. As customers we have learned to face the D word (disruption) and even to welcome it. Retail, too, must learn to embrace not just technological change, but changes in attitude. A new era of populist democracy is spreading across the world and we must learn to see the opportunities it holds.

Favourite cities?

I have witnessed some wonderfully heart-warming retail regeneration in places as widely dispersed as Detroit, San Francisco, Hamburg, Sydney and, of course, Auckland. A couple of weeks ago I was in Warsaw and saw the same thing there: the rise of artisan, independent retail and restaurants and the rebirth of the grand central market hall. It's so clear what our cities need and slowly but surely it is happening.

Issues for 2017?

Well, I've said it. Retailers must understand that if they don't offer us a unique experience or any sense of belonging, then we will order it online. Everything you need can be sitting in a brown paper parcel by your front door, probably within the hour if you need it that badly. In one word I would ask retailers to think of their stores as 'clubs' as opposed to 'stores'. Then ask yourself why your customers will want to be members, what are the benefits, etc. If it's just convenience and price, then you could be in trouble.

Predictions?

Well, the biggest game-changer that's just been announced is Amazon Go. The Uber model for retail is here. You can legally shoplift, literally 'grab and go' and this just drives up the binary nature of retail further: stuff versus fun, that's the choice now. If you can't compete with the Amazon model then you'd better start making your stores worthwhile to visit. That means having intelligent experts in hospitality, not transaction based staff. So, retail will become much more clearly binary and staff will be much more hospitable! See, the future may be scary but somehow it always turns out just fine.
 

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Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register team
Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

As of 3pm on March 21, a wide range of semi-automatic weapons have been reclassified under section 74A(c) of the Arms Act as requiring an E endorsement on a firearms license. This means they can no longer be sold to those with A-category gun licenses, and their purchase now requires police approval.

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Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register
Retailers gather for insights at NZ Retail and The Register's breakfast

NZ Retail and The Register’s sales and marketing breakfast saw dozens of Kiwi retailers come together to network, sharing tips and tricks and absorbing expert advice.

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Who stole Christmas?

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Kelly Withers
Who stole Christmas?

Results are starting to trickle in from Christmas 2018/2019, and for many retailers, they're a little disappointing. Paydar chief executive and co-founder Kelly Withers explores the data.

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Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
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Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Chinese businesspeople raise millions for Christchurch victims

A group of visiting Chinese businesspeople have raised $2.35 million for victims of the Christchurch mass shooting.

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Hunting & Fishing New Zealand voluntarily pulls military-style assault weapons from sale

  • News
  • March 20, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Hunting & Fishing New Zealand voluntarily pulls military-style assault weapons from sale

In the wake of the attack on Christchurch’s Muslim community on March 15, strong calls for changes to New Zealand’s gun last have been made. Trade Me was the first retailer to act, halting the sale of all semi-automatic weapons on its platform, and it has now been joined by Hunting & Fishing New Zealand.

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