design:retail - January 2016 - (Page 28)

searching for steve jobs 028 The Ghost of Christmas Future ROBERT HOCKING RETALE MATTERS @rhockinguk A S I WRITE THIS, retailers in the U.K. are in the middle of their annual advertising war trying to attract shoppers into their stores. They're decking their halls and discounting their wares in hopes that they can make up for what many have experienced as a soft year (this despite the fact that the U.K. has one of the most solid growth trends of all economies in Europe). As you read this, you're likely still recovering from the craziness that is Christmas in retail and probably don't want to think about red, green or gold for another, well, three months or so until you begin planning again. But I'm going to ask you to pause for a moment and think about the true nature of Christmas in retail. The U.K. retail tradition involves trying to top one another through television ads designed to make you cry (Sainsbury, a national grocery retailer, has produced an epic spot to sell its turkeys and turnips-eat that Super Bowl ads!). But strangely, I'd even say stupidly, if you were so moved by these ads to actually leave your sofa and go to the store, all you would have found were crowds, a bit of tinsel and the same old store you likely opted out of the rest of the year. Perhaps this is why the growth of online shopping climbs on its relentless ascent-and consider this terrifying fact: if you think Amazon is bad, Alibaba, its Chinese copycat, dwarfs Amazon in both revenue and profitability. On Nov. 11, they celebrated Singles Day, an odd "holiday" for the unmarried, and ran up $14 billion in sales that day alone. So, with shoppers always looking for deals and online retail growing, to say nothing of just regular, run-of-the-mill competition, we march to the JANUARY 2016 DESIGNRETAILONLINE.COM relentless drumbeat of a thousand little drummer boys as we begin 2016 again looking and hoping for new strategies to have an even better year than last (and I sincerely hope you had a great one). Which brings me back to Christmas: the mythical magic of this holiday showcases stores at their best. It is our retail stores that create the stage for creative, sentimental, joyous and dreamy holiday memories. Who can forget the childhood memory of sitting on Santa's lap? It isn't just about the stuff. It is the power of creating a meaningful experience. While there is unquestionably greater pressure to spend at this time of year, the fact is people love discovery and the seduction of new things at any time. There's no seasonality to desire. And this offers retail's great opportunity-the ability to tap into an always-on emotional state to entice people to come into the store and then keep coming back. The major department stores over here- Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges-are perfect examples of retailers that do this exceptionally well. They all make it their business to constantly innovate, to make their stores destinations, not just "shops," all year long. And it pays off. They treat their stores like theaters of dreams, requiring constant care and attention to capture peoples' imaginations. Christmas is an excuse to add another level of experience for customers. In return, each is rewarded with new shoppers added to their loyal customer base, who have an emotional engagement with their brands. The in-store experience is so powerful that shopping online defeats the enjoyment delivered through their true purpose and value. If the only effort you made with those you love was once a year, you'd likely be left alone at Christmas. So, why do brands and retailers show the love disproportionately at Christmas and then revert to the same-old, same-old throughout the rest of the year? The simple response is because you follow the money, and the holidays are when shoppers are spending. So you make hay. But this strategy, one that's all too common, points at a serious problem. My challenge to you is to have the attitude of Christmas year-round. In the competitive environment in which we now operate, shoppers expect it. If we can do it once a year, we can sustain it for 12 months. Heck, Fortnum & Mason over here opens its Christmas shop in July, so they're already halfway there! I know we get bogged down and tired out by the realities of retail, especially at this time of year. But never forget that to the uninitiated, our customers, they see magic in what we create. And there's not much magic in an Amazon or Alibaba Web page, so we'd better give it to them. Here's hoping we all have a great 2016. ROBERT HOCKING IS A LONDON-BASED RETAIL BRAND CONSULTANT WHO LOVES RETAIL BUT HATES SHOPPING-AND CONTINUES TO SEARCH FOR STORES THAT WILL CHANGE HIS MIND. Photo by FOTOHUNTER/ISTOCK/THINKSTOCK http://www.DESIGNRETAILONLINE.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of design:retail - January 2016

design:retail - January 2016
Editor’s Note
Show Talk
On Trend
We Love This!
Designer Picks
Clicks & Mortar
Have You Heard?
The Visual Eye
Searching for Steve Jobs
Searching for Steve Jobs
Winning Windows
Visual Eye
Visual Products

design:retail - January 2016