Today, traditional retailers are challenged to survive alongside big name e-commerce retailers who can promise lower prices and convenience. But how can they survive in this competitive world? What risks and changes should retailers take in order to differentiate and attract customer loyalty?
To address some of these pressing questions, Fjord New York held a Fjord Kitchen event on The Evolution of Bespoke Retail, featuring a panel conversation with industry experts and innovators. Our CEO, Olof Schybergson, kicked-off the evening by outlining retail’s progression over the decades through the three major digital transformation waves: Web, Mobility, and Living Services.
Our panelists, Soraya Darabi (co-founder of Zady), Tucker Viemeister (industrial and experiential designer), and Rachel Shechtman (founder of STORY), then joined Olof on stage to discuss how to react to these major changes. Moderated by Gigaom senior writer, Katie Fehrenbacher, she guided the conversation to debate several aspects of retail.
The panelists touched on the divide with many retailers between digital and traditional channels. Soraya stated that “omnichannel is the word of the year,” and advised retailers to embrace the strengths of each channel to work together. In order to remain relevant and succeed in the coming years, the panelists emphasized that retailers must take bold risks and leverage both their physical and digital capabilities.
We heard the panel touch upon the strengths of brick-and-mortar. In fact, Rachel believes that brick-and-mortar stores are in a renaissance: physical experiences offer more ways to differentiate a brand and build immersive stories and experiences. Beyond giving customers a chance to closely examine product, the physical space is an opportunity for retailers to standout. According to Soraya, an authentic experience is made possible through effective curation and storytelling. Rachel agreed and emphasized that a store should offer a point of view to its customers. Tucker added that stores and public spaces are the new mass media: it is an opportunity for you to reach mass foot traffic in a meaningful and immersive way. Rachel added that because of exactly this, at STORY, sponsorship has been one of their revenue models.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, the role of digital is to enhance the customer experience. The Fjord Kitchen featured a demo from PERCH Interactive, an interactive and experiential store display table, which was referenced as a prime example for a digital technology that enhances the shopping experience. In addition, with PERCH, the retailer gets analytics on customer usage. This opportunity to tap into customer data to help better understand the customer and tailor experiences is just as important in physical spaces as it is online. For instance, STORY utilizes heat map technology to map customer movement through the space in order to understand how customers engage and refine product placement and store layout.
Olof added that although it may not be the most exciting technology, mobile is still the most versatile technology out there that has yet to fully be realized. With mobile, customers can be identified, share socially, take photos, pay, and much more. It is also technology that is pervasive and use of mobile is already part of shopper habits.
For stores, this means retailers can think about new models outside of sales, and instead see the store as an opportunity to guide people to additional offerings, whether online, or through sponsored content or products.
A big thank you to our fantastic panel for the great insights, and we hope to continue the conversation on The Evolution of Bespoke Retail. You can follow along to highlights from the evening with the hashtag #FJORDKITCHEN as well as view photos from the event on our Facebook page. A video from the event will be live shortly!