As part of ‘Retail Week 2019’, award finalists were taken on an exclusive tour of five Melbourne-based retailers, and one retail and entertainment precinct, who were all doing extraordinary things to stand out from the crowd.
Activation of spaces
The tour uncovered a growing movement of cleverly using spaces to attract shoppers – particularly transforming under-used space. Melbourne Central, a hub for novel retail approaches, offers many examples including its rooftop.
Once used as a pop-up rooftop hotel offering CBD ‘glamping’, it is now being re-activated as a rooftop pool and leisure club. Known as the Reunion Island Pool Club, the space is designed to attract visitors to the retail and entertainment precinct. The rooftop will also feature a ‘General Store’ with a product range selected from the precinct’s fashion retailers.
Visiting LITMUS LABS also highlighted the way in which floorspace and foot traffic can converge to offer an interactive and immersive product experience.
LITMUS LABS isn’t a retailer per se. Its expansive pop-up-like store allows shoppers to physically interact with cutting edge consumer products like smart home devices, motorised skateboards and folding scooters. In many cases, these products haven’t been seen outside of online stores. As a space that embodies ‘showrooming’, LITMUS LABS measures its success by tracking the sales performance of its displayed products via online marketplaces like Amazon.
All about the individual
One of the next stops on the tour was First Principles Denim, where shoppers can personalise jeans by selecting their preferred denim, colour, style and buttons and have them made to size. After completing their first pair with the consultants in-store, customers can create their own customised variations online.
Similarly, TimBuk2, whose iconic product is its messenger bags, offers customisation on part of its range. Customers are able to choose the material, colour, closures and size and type of interior compartments on select products.
While First Principles Denim and TimBuk2 discussed the ability to tailor products to each individual’s specifications, it’s interesting that customers are willing to wait a while for the product to arrive, putting quality and a sense of individuality above instant gratification.
Visiting pet retailer, PETstock, highlighted its approach to create personalised experiences based on understanding all aspects of customers’ pet needs, and leveraging data to better serve its customers. These have become its unique selling points.
Aside from hiring passionate staff that get to know individual customers and their pets in-store, PETstock has development plans for its existing app. Built around the customer’s pet the app provides a gateway to fully integrated service offerings including Vet and Grooming bookings.
Through the app, customers can also have essentials such as dog or cat food automatically home-delivered at a specified frequency. Customers will no longer have to think about standard items, making them less likely to shop around and all conveniently delivered to their door.
A connection through purpose
The tour also visited two retailers that are harnessing the power of social purpose to create brand engagement and attract like-minded customers – TOMS and Timbuk2. Under TOMS One for One® model, each purchase of TOMS’ shoes, eyewear, coffee and bags leads to someone in need receiving something in kind – shoes, an eye test or access to clean water, among other things.
Timbuk2’s bags with lifetime guarantees are the antithesis of fast fashion. The Timbuk2 Life Cycle program of “reduce, reuse, repair, recycle and reimagine” further extends the life of their sustainably sourced materials. They even encourage customers to return competitors’ bags so the materials can be re-used rather than discarded - creating a brand ethos designed to engage environmentally conscious customers.
Whether it is embedding a social purpose, or looking at new ways to use spaces or customise products, the tour reiterated that savvy retail businesses are thinking creatively about identifying a competitive edge.