Kickstarting retailers' new year

  • News
  • February 15, 2018
  • The Register team
Kickstarting retailers' new year

Retailers had a tough year in 2017, and 2018 is shaping up to be just as full of change and excitement. At The Register’s first event, held at Citta Design in Newmarket and sponsored by Latitude Financial, The Register editor Sarah Dunn and Retail X’s Juanita Neville-Te Rito considered Amazon, the future of payments and other factors likely to shape the next 12 months.

Dunn kicked off the proceedings with a reflection on the key retail events of 2017. Among the significant changes she noted were the launch of Amazon Australia; the arrival of Chemist Warehouse; the new stores opened by recent market entrants including H&M and Mecca Maxima; and Kmart’s ecommerce store.

Significant trends from 2017 included the rapid adoption of digital buy-now, pay-later systems; the rise of food and beverage integrations; and the move from retailers big and small away from single-use plastic bags. Dunn says a recent reader survey indicated 64 percent of The Register’s readers felt plastic bags should be banned at a national level.

Collaborations have overtaken pop-up shops as a source of excitement for consumers, Dunn says.

“Pop-up stores also continued to be popular venues for retail experimentation, but they’re no longer the exciting events they were a couple of years ago – they’re now just another part of the retail landscape.

“What’s overtaken pop-ups is co-located shops within shops and collaborations in general, which get a lot of consumer attention at the moment. Food, especially, is a huge deal.”

Amazon’s looming launch in Australia was a source of anxiety for many retailers over 2017, Dunn says.

“There’s been a real absence of information about what’s happening regarding New Zealand and Amazon, and that vacuum allowed a lot of fear and anxiety to flourish at the end of last year. It’s well-known that Amazon has the resources to make serious, rapid moves in almost any direction, and almost every big retailer I spoke to at the end of last year wanted to discuss what might happen.”

She finished by sharing some advice condensed from a series of recent Amazon features in NZ Retail magazine. 

Neville-Te Rito explored Amazon and its tech offering more deeply in her presentation, ‘Retail reinvention for the new normal’. She says the current upheaval in retail has left retailers in a dynamic, exciting new environment which rewards those who are “really, really customer-centric, digitally fluent, mobile-led and nimble.”

“The best retailers in our new normal are those that will offer the products and experiences for the shopper to prolong the tale - the many touchpoints that can make them feel good, bad or indifferent,” Neville-Te Rito says. “They want to touch, feel, taste, smell and interact.”

“To be engaged and involved, educated and informed or challenged and entertained.”

Amazon is competitive because of its emphasis on customer-centricity, she says. Projects such as its physical Amazon bookstores and the Treasure Truck take its presence into the real world, and technology like Alexa allows it to keep learning about the shopper and guiding them.

Neville-Te Rito says the company is continuing to grow into categories like dollar-store goods and own brands, meaning ‘Amazonification’ could reach any retailer.

“I do believe no category is Amazon-proof. I also think Amazon has shaken up some lazy and greedy retailers.”

She recommends retailers have a clear proposition that tells their story; curate products “like nobody else can”; and pursue a personal connection with the customer on the customer’s terms.

The ‘Future of payments’ panel was run by Dunn. The panelists were:

  • Juanita Neville Te-Rito - Founder and director of strategy RetailX
  • Riaz Nasrabadi - Head of Product for Visa New Zealand and South Pacific
  • Peter Newton - Commercial Director Latitude Financial Services

Topics covered included the rise of contactless payments, shoppers’ demand for seamless payment experiences and the likelihood of New Zealanders giving up on paying with cash.

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