Transformation lies ahead for bricks and mortar retailers

It was a busy week hearing from a wide range of retailers, brand owners and global retail industry advisers this week.

The first half of the week I spent at the Retail World 2012 conference in Melbourne’s amazing Convention Centre. CEOs such as Paul Zahra from DJs, Dene Rogers from Target, Mark Ward from Officeworks and Don Stallings from Masters all took to the stage to talk about their own company’s approach to omni-channel retailing.

Each executive was at a different point on the journey of omni-channel retailing. The greatest surprise was just how far Officeworks is along the line of allowing its customers to shop their stores in whatever method they choose: store, phone, online and good old-fashioned fax.

The last channel is always a reminder to me that habits are different for different types of shoppers. Because Officeworks has so many SMEs as customers, there remains a comfort with writing out an order and faxing it through for some. CROSSMARK has a pharmacy division that has amazing response rates to fax-stream orders because it is a convenient way for time-poor independent pharmacists to respond to offers.

A friend of mine, founder Howard Saunders, was also speaking at the conference. Howard is arguably one of the world’s top retail trend reflectors, and is very highly sought-after by some of the world’s largest retailers. He has transformed millions of square metres of retailing space by working alongside the design arms of mall and store developers to bring space alive.

Howard worked on the new Westfield at the London Olympic site, so if you are lucky enough to be in London in the coming weeks, drop into the food court to experience a very different in-mall eating environment to the traditional ‘food court’ found in most malls.

However, like many truly independent and successful advisers, Howard is very confronting in his observations on what needs to be done differently to ensure that retailers remain current, relevant and chosen by shoppers.

In fact, I would hazard a guess that many retailers choose to ignore Howard’s advice, or not engage with him, because they are reluctant to effect too much change in their own stores.

At the conference, Howard went through a case study of Thornton’s Chocolate (a retailer in the UK); a traditional chocolate maker and seller with great history. However, this store is on Howard’s ‘most likely to die’ list. When he showed the photos of the inside of the Thornton’s stores the Australian audience was staggered by how similar they were to our own recently departed Darrell Lea.

Howard is about to depart Australia to take up residence in New York City. There is a Westfield shopping mall being developed on the site of Ground Zero. I don’t know if Howard is working on it, but his enigmatic, challenging and vibrant views would certainly assist to move that site beyond the tragedy it is only known for since 2001.

As CROSSMARK CEO, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this insightful blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia and across the world. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for businesses in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands.

CROSSMARK Asia Pacific is Australasia’s largest provider of retail marketing services, consulting to and servicing some of Australasia’s biggest retailers and manufacturers.



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