8 Genius Examples of Next Generation Retail

New technologies, business models and consumer demands are paving the way for what we’re about to see in retail operations, productivity and experiences over the coming years — even months.

Retailers have already begun addressing these disruptions and behavioral shifts of the next generation of consumer. Here we will bring to light seven retailers — some legacy, some up-and-coming — who are standing above their competitors, with often small but incredibly innovative moves. Each example addresses a different change in consumer behavior, with the retailer’s response to better their shopping experience.

Ulta Beauty

Mixing High-End with High-Value

Accessible luxury is rising in popularity. With a generation of consumers who share everything online, who want to look good and wear the best, who are still conscious with their spending, care about where the spend and have numerous options to be choosy, plus the startup boom, luxury retailers need to adapt.

Ulta has grown exponentially in the US to become the largest one-stop beauty retailer. Reflecting the diminishing loyalty to brands of today’s consumers to loyalty to location, customers can find products to suit any budget, from luxury to value. 80% of Ulta’s sales come from loyalty program members.


Getting Personal

Personalization is paramount. Consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer — either online or offline — if they recognize them by name, know their purchase history and recommend items based on this information. A huge 74% feel frustrated when website content is not personalized.

Lancôme are proving that the quality, personal service that is normally associated with in-store visits, can be experienced online with new technologies. Customers are able to browse products, and view them on a model representative of their own skin tone. Lancôme are then able to suggest items on this model, curating unique looks for each customer. It also takes into consideration individual preferences and current regional trends.


Serving the Customer, Not the Interaction

71% of shoppers say it’s important a brand makes its’ products available to view online. 65% of shoppers also prefer to shop in person. As online shopping rises, but the value of visiting in-store is still high for customers, an omnichannel customer journey is paramount for today’s retailers.

Clinique’s Great Skin Lab, located in various stores in the UK consults customers on make-up and skin care, and offer a unique code which can be later used online to access the personal recommendations given in-store.

House of Fraser

Tapping the Customer’s Pocket

In almost every shoppers pocket is a smartphone. Retailers are beginning to tap into this device closest to their customer to enhance experience, push sales and engage them with the brand.

House of Fraser department store once tried out high-tech mannequins in their Aberdeen store. They held beacons which would deliver information about their outfit and style to shoppers with the enabled smartphone app, who could then purchase items they liked directly from their mobiles, without having to search the store.


Move Fast or Move Out

Waiting for new styles once a season is not an option, and today’s consumers want everything now — even better — yesterday. So fashion needs to move fast if they want to stay ahead. Zara is able to conceptualize a design and stock an outfit in its international stores in 21 days or less.

Working Agile is their tactic, and a huge part of this is constantly gathering and reviewing customer feedback on certain products and styles. They are continuously exchanging this feedback with stores in other countries to ensure they keep up with global trends.


Experience Is Everything

63% of the younger generation prefer to spend their money on experiences over material items. “Their last great experience is their new expectation” — Steve Laughlin, IBM General Manager. With the option to shop online, in-store experiences need to be something a little more engaging and valuable.

Adidas created a flagship store which replicated the atmosphere and look of a stadium. Customers would enter the store through a tunnel, the changing rooms resembled locker rooms and there were trial zones for football, basketball and soccer. Likely resonating with many sports fans coming into the store, Adidas hoped the “stadium retail concept” would spread brand awareness across the US.


Gamifying Retail

Adding value, motivation and fun to an existing activity is becoming desirable. Leaderboard loyalty programs, points for contacting customer service, sales training games and simple brand engagement.

Schuh — an unlikely brand to launch a mobile game around its products — teamed up with Google to create Ingress. This location based game encouraged people to go outdoors and become urban explorers. In various well-known locations would be “portals” which players had to discover, hack and take control of to climb up the leaderboard. Of course, we assume that Schuh came into the equation when the player’s shoes had worn out from all the exploring.


Making Shopping Sustainable

Whether they actually care more, are exposed to much more global news and impact, or simply have the limitless choice of retailers to be more careful with what they spend on, the younger generation favors sustainable brands. 47% have even stopped purchasing from a brand after finding out they were not environmentally friendly.

H&M’s owners begun the non-profit and global H&M Foundation to work on their values and belief in the importance of a sustainable future separately from their clothing line. Recently they also began an accelerator program to fund sustainable, up-and-coming fashion designers and creators to bring their clothing business increasingly inline with the core values of their foundation.

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