Sometimes you have to experience retail to believe it. So while we are all chattering at each other on LinkedIn and other channels about the future of retail, maybe we should all spend a bit more time visiting the wonderful stores that are out there already.
We know retail has changed but we have probably not thought too much about who changed it. Technology is an enabler, but the catalyst surely is people, specifically women, who once made up the vast majority of the human beings who actually went into a store. They are the ones who brought about this revolution where we now feel entitled to say exactly what we want and then actually end up getting it. By and large.
Who’s shaping retail today?
How much time I had to spend as a retail journalist talking to retailers, almost exclusively men, lecture to me about how retailing worked, the same men whose wives not only picked out their ties but went shopping for them as well.
So, while I may feel a little unsettled by women-only panels or women’s lounges at trade shows, I accept that I work in an industry that is increasingly populated by, run by, influenced by and ultimately changed by women.
Myth of the golden days of retail
And all to the good, for those of you who remember what retailing used to be like. It was referred to as a golden age, but only because retailers were making so much money. For the consumer, it was little more than a chore. One trip to Harrods before Christmas was the only highlight. The rest of the year it was mothers smacking their children in the Arndale centre, a queue at Foyles book shop just to get a ticket to take to another queue for the cashier; and, the miserable local shop keeper telling you to get out of his shop. Happy days. Not.
Experiential retailing at its best
So, putting that all behind us, go and visit a Rituals store, or Ralph Lauren, Burberry, an M&S (only the really big ones), John Lewis, or cruise the concessions at Selfridges. All these retailers have their challenges, played out painfully in the public media, but you can see the love and sweat that has been put into the products, the shelving, the lighting, the layouts, the ticketing, the promotions and so on, all of which comes to a crescendo right now in the build up to Christmas.
And on that note, as part of our involvement with NRF’s 2020 show we are running a guided store tour in New York in January so if you’re a retailer and you really want to get on that, just let me know.
If you’d like to join the NRF store tour contact Chris: