Close
 

Can we stop talking about the death of retail?

  • Opinion
  • September 18, 2017
  • Vaughan Rowsell
Can we stop talking about the death of retail?

“Retail is dying.” — WTF?

This is generally where the conversation goes when people in the online and technology spaces talk about it. The media too, because it’s a good story. And we are all going to eat Soylent, and wear white turtlenecks and have self driving Teslas. But it won’t last long because AI robots are going to kill us all in a few years.

Sometimes I worry about our ability to predict a future any of us actually want.

Retail is NOT dying.

Retail — the activity of shopping and socialising — is entering a new golden age, and it’s technology that is enabling this. Not killing it. Physical retail is not going anywhere, in fact it’s becoming something magical.

I see two types of retail — chore and cherish. Chore is getting the groceries. Cherish is finding the things you love and want to share like a gift or fashion. The cherish part of retail is what defines us as unique human beings.

There is no doubt that Amazon will continue to disrupt distribution, in particular in the chore side of retail that not many of us like. Technology can predict our behaviour and preferences and automation can deliver our bread, toilet paper or a replacement phone charger just in time. Alexa can be your personal assistant simplifying the chore of retail. “Alexa, we need more dishwashing liquid, and something eco-friendly please”. I think this leads to a more delightful experience because it removes the chore.

There is no doubt that mobile and social are playing a more active part of how we discover and shop. We can buy things through more channels than we ever have before. Discover cool things through the social shares of our friends. This is delightful because we can discover new things easier, and share them.

There is no doubt that the big box store retail is not what people want anymore, it’s soulless. Malls will close down because of this. Shoppers don’t want to be herded or shop at the same 15 stores everywhere they go.

But there is also no doubt that retail is becoming more vibrant and diverse. More independent stores not fewer. More artisan products. More carefully curated sets of products for you to fall in love with and cherish. It has never been easier to run a retail store than before. And technology is driving this.

There are online channels and “offline” stores, but it’s not online vs offline — it’s just retail. It’s about using all the channels and experiences.

This has in the past been referred to as omnichannel — selling anywhere. I just call it retail. It’s about giving your customers the option to discover you anywhere, and shop with you anywhere. Buy online or collect in store. But it is just retail.

Online is the easiest way to discover and connect with customers today and if you are in retail you should be focussing a lot of your marketing spend on these new channels. Facebook, for example, makes it super easy to connect with customers in a hyper-targetted way. Ebay or Amazon makes it super simple to shift excess inventory in a hurry.

But acquiring customers online doesn’t mean that they want to shop online. Retail is all about the experience and this is where technology is helping in-store. The magic of retail is the act of discovering and experiencing products to cherish and that will always be something shoppers will want to do and some of the discovery will be online, and a lot of the experience will be in person. It will be a blend and that is why although the tools retailers use today should be all 100% digital, the real experience is still analog.

The best retailers in the world know this and so invest in both online reach and a magical experience with their brand in store. Apple, Warby Parker, even Amazon.

They also know that they need to know their customers better. Know their preferences, likes and dislikes. They need to engage with them in new ways and build a relationship and this is done with digital tools. Forget the loyalty card or the VIP club signup slip at the counter. Your phone can do this.

Meanwhile high streets are becoming more vibrant. New retailers can literally pop-up anywhere. Craftspeople can sell anywhere, in the corner of another store or a market. And customers come because they love it. They love the experience, the act of hunting and gathering. Finding the hidden gems. Being part of a community. Having fun and being delighted. It’s what makes us human.

So please, please, can we stop talking about the death of retail?— I honestly don’t know what you mean.

It’s never been a more vibrant time in retail. And it’s technology driving this, not killing it. I am super proud to be part of this industry — just wait till you see what is around the corner. Literally.

It’s going to be awesome.

This story originally appeared on Vaughan's blog.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

Foodstuffs’ Baden Ngan Kee has passed away

  • Who's Where
  • July 16, 2019
  • The Register team
Foodstuffs’ Baden Ngan Kee has passed away

Foodstuffs has announced that its former executive Baden Ngan Kee has passed away after a battle with lung cancer.

Read more
 
 

2 Cheap Cars fined $438,000 under the Fair Trading Act

  • News
  • July 14, 2019
  • The Register team
2 Cheap Cars fined $438,000 under the Fair Trading Act

Used car dealer 2 Cheap Cars has been fined $438,000 for its use of “warranty waiver” documents and marketing statements described as “deliberately misleading”.

Read more
 
 

Retail's new best friend

  • In association with the IHA Global Innovation Awards (GIA)
  • July 13, 2019
  • Anne Kong
Retail's new best friend

As the heart and soul of retailing further evolves, stores and the essence of shopping will continue to morph in unimaginable ways. However, amidst the storm of change, there is one aspect of shopping that remains pure, constant and motivational – the aspirational moment. Anne Kong, member of the GIA expert jury, shares her thoughts.

Read more
 

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.

 
topics
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 

Bendon looks to sell brands after financing falters

  • News
  • July 12, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Bendon looks to sell brands after financing falters

Bendon lingerie is looking to sell some of its brands as the future of the company becomes more uncertain.

Read more
 
 

Smirnoff Pure helps Kiwis discover local artists with Spotify partnership

  • News
  • July 11, 2019
  • Caitlin Salter
Smirnoff Pure helps Kiwis discover local artists with Spotify partnership

The music we love is made up of many influences, including where we live. In its latest campaign, Smirnoff Pure and YoungShand tapped into the unique vibes of New Zealand and set out to help Kiwis discover the music that moves the cities and suburbs they call home.

Read more
 

Outgoing Spark CEO Simon Moutter talks transformation, diversity and leaving a legacy beyond just metrics

  • News
  • July 11, 2019
  • Elly Strang
Outgoing Spark CEO Simon Moutter talks transformation, diversity and leaving a legacy beyond just metrics

Simon Moutter has just wrapped up a seven-year tenure at telecommunications company Spark. Under his rein, the changes the company has gone through are nothing short of radical, from its name (Telecom to Spark), to its operating model (traditional to agile), to its culture (publicly called out to inclusive) to its structure (one monopoly brand to many). Here, Moutter has a candid chat about his journey as CEO, the company's push to be a more diverse and inclusive workplace and how one of his biggest lessons learned was he couldn’t solve a cultural issue with processes and strategy.

Read more
 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}