Long before COVID-19 accelerated a retail shift, the industry was changing, with online commerce, the consumer experience, and ethics and sustainability all shaping customer expectation of the sector.
That’s seen a range of retailers alter their offering in recent times, with many embracing new and innovative strategies to reflect a changed retail landscape.
Here are just three examples of retail trends in action and how bricks and mortar stores are rising to the new retail challenge.
Experiential store design- Rebel
Rebel’s Concept Store in Parramatta NSW has enjoyed a wealth of praise since its opening last year, but now the retail sporting giant has picked up a slew of Inside Retail awards, including Best Store Design/Concept of the Year, along with the Customer Experience of the Year.
Featuring immersive experiences like virtual games, advice from athletes on the right running shoes, and even the ability to shoot hoops in-store, the retailer has designed its outlet to cater to everything a consumer could possibly want from a sports store.
Inside, there’s cutting-edge technology, a basketball court, a soccer room, and access to sales associate expertise, making this a sport’s enthusiasts heaven.
Rebel’s General Manager of Finance and Portfolio Strategy, Sylvain Baudens told Inside Retail, in the wake of COVID and the push to digital over recent years, retailers needed “to offer an experience in-store that consumers can’t get at home while browsing the web”.
“The passion and expertise from the team on the floor, the range and presentation of products, together with technology like QR codes … you need to provide a real reason for people to visit,” he said.
“That’s why we’ve introduced interactive games, a soccer room and a basketball court where you can try the latest LeBron James shoes and have fun with friends. It brings life to the store.”
The online shift – Woolworths
Last year resulted in a major shift to online retail and the convenience of that service means the trend isn’t going anywhere soon.
In Queensland, that’s seen grocery retailer Woolworths roll out the state’s first ‘dark store’. Acting as a warehouse, it will allow Woolworths’ personal shoppers to pick and pack grocery orders from across Brisbane.
The store will feature wider aisles, will stock around 20,000 products, will not be open to the public and will provide employment to around 800 personal shoppers
The ABC explains similar dark stores operate in Lidcombe, Mascot and Brookvale in Sydney and West Footscray in Melbourne, and comes after the grocery retailer saw online sales grow by 92 percent between July and December last year.
It follows a trend that has seen Amazon and Coles open up dispatch centres while even ‘dark kitchens’ that facilitate takeaway food orders have been unveiled in Brisbane and across the country.
Catering to the conscious consumer – multiple brands
Conscious consumerism has been a big trend in recent years, and COVID did little to slow it down.
That’s seeing retailers consider ethics as integral to their marketing and sales.
Inside Retail explains the range includes more than 800 products made from sustainable materials such as recycled paper, wooden materials, bamboo or natural ingredients.
“Choosing more sustainable products is the easiest way for our customers to make a positive difference when shopping with us,” MD at Officeworks, Sarah Hunter, told Inside Retail.
“Greener Choices is just one part of our commitment to supporting people and the planet and we look forward to continuing to expand our range.”
Meanwhile, in early February it was announced all of Mirvac’s 16 retail centres now run on renewable energy, with the company noting it would eliminate almost 30,000 tonnes of CO2 by the end of this year and reduce Mirvac’s carbon emissions by 39 per cent.
Over at Vicinity Group, the company is targeting modern slavery, releasing its first Modern Slavery Statement, which details its ethical working standards and how it is helping to protect its employees.
“We’re already taking proactive steps to identify, report and address modern slavery, with a focus on higher risk industries such as cleaning and security, and our first Modern Slavery Statement captures this work to encourage continued progress,” Vicinity CEO and managing director Grant Kelley told Inside Retail.