How brands are shifting the retail paradigm in 2019

Credit: Unsplash

Credit: Unsplash

We’re only halfway through 2019 and already there are major retailers filing for bankruptcies.

January 2019 saw Crabtree & Evelyn holding nationwide sales before closing its doors.

2 months later saw Diesel Jeans USA filing for bankruptcy.

While physical retail stores are not dead in Malaysia yet, the landscape will soon change thanks to the ever-changing consumer habit. With the introduction of smartphones, every generation from the Gen-Z to the Silent are seeing the convenience of this device.

But that’s not all the retail landscape is poised to change in 2019.

What then are retailers doing to elevate your shopping experience?

1. Creating an integrated shopping experience

While the traditional brick-and-mortar stores are here to stay in Malaysia, efforts to match today’s consumer habits are on the rise. Majority of retailers are verified on social media, have apps, and a website designed to give you a seamless shopping experience. They constantly delight and surprise you with cash back, loyalty and reward programs.

Alibaba and Tencent are great examples of disrupting the traditional way of doing business; they combine several businesses (such as banking, chat, social media, search and retail) into one entity fit for your lifestyle and convenience.

2. Creating concept stores and showrooms

The idea of concept stores and showrooms in Malaysia may be unheard of, but it is not a far-fetched idea. While the emergence of new technologies give consumers more reasons to shop from the comfort of their home, most Malaysians still find shopping and mall-hopping as an important pastime. Malls have become meeting points to socialize, for leisure, grab a bite and recreational activities.

Ikea is infamous for their maze-like showroom layout and restaurant. KLCC will convert a portion of its mall to a “street mall” for entrepreneurs and startups to open their pop-up stores by end of 2019. As rental prices and maintenance get higher, showrooms could be the new “it” thing to test markets, bring awareness to your brand, function as a space to interact with you, the customers and  ultimately place orders for products to be delivered or collected later.

3. Recognizing the power of social commerce

How many of you have shopped on social media?

Social media has long been a place to make and connect with friends and upload bits and pieces of your daily life for sharing and memories. Then brands came along upon realizing they could have a piece of the connection and conversation with their customers as well.

Today social media giants like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram give you the option to not just discover, research, review and compare brands and prices but to purchase as well. Instagram is the best example so far as they allow you to do all that without leaving the app.

And pretty much anyone can be an influencer with social commerce today. A 2019 study by Nielsen found 27% of consumers are influenced to buy a certain product by friends and family, so go on, post photos of your favorite product, write a review of it on their pages, spread the good news.

4. Making sustainability part of their story

Going green is the new big thing!

With the subject of climate change gaining traction, companies began taking initiatives to lessen their environmental impact. H&M’s Garment Collection Program works towards a sustainable fashion future; you can drop your unwanted clothes at their stores and it will either be re-worn, reused or recycled. Uniqlo also has a similar recycling program and they reduce environmental impact by using LED lighting in their stores.

And yes, consumers care about environmental issues, and they expect companies to care too!

 

5. Continue investing in exceptional customer service

Everyone knows good customer service is fundamental to every business, but a simple, exceptional human touch can go a longer way. A friendly, personal introduction and a polite thank you and goodbye creates an instant connection with a customer. Put yourself in their shoes and think how you would want to be treated as a customer. Analyze their needs and goals to create an offer that aligns with them instead of being pushy.

“You may have the same brand across many stores but the human touch differs as the person managing each store is not the same,” says CPN Ventures Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Anthony Dylan. “The key to today’s business is marrying technology and customer service to create that experience.”