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3 Actionable Insights from… retail prognosticator Piers Fawkes

PSFK founder Fawkes. / Randee St. Nicholas

Cleanup in aisle five! Has there ever been a more disruptive time in retail? To get a better handle on what businesses should be doing to fix this messy situation, The Drum called up long-admired retail trends spotter and PSFK founder Piers Fawkes. Here are the three top actions he recommends:

1. Own the experience. Customers are anxious to return to their everyday retail and lifestyle routines, but stores and physical marketplaces are having difficulty offering any creature comforts as they reopen with limited services. Consumers are looking for brands to step in and streamline the purchase path or even reduce the frustrations of today’s in-store visits ‑ all to make the total shopping experience feel just a little bit more manageable. At Best Buy for example, after scheduling an in-store appointment, customers preparing for a visit receive a call from a store employee ahead of their visit to review store procedures and offer more information about their shopping purpose.

2. Reenergize the relationship. Regular store visits were an anchor for customer/brand relationships. As customers are forced to spend more time on apps, websites, and digital spaces, use this moment to re-establish and reenergize relationships with shoppers by focusing social engagements around community building and amplifying the voices of your most loyal customers. For example, Vans has done wonderful job celebrating, supporting and promoting the subculture of LBGTQ+ skaters called The Skate Witches with a series of online photo, video, and writing workshops. Vans have found the right way to say welcome to this culture in a way that is authentic.

3. Redesign the infrastructure. The retail industry as a whole is realizing a new level of nimbleness and flexibility necessary to survive constant consumer trends, marketplace evolutions, and global economic shifts. In doing so, retailers and brands are learning to navigate and thrive in environments that are less certain and consistent. Part of this evolution involves brands allowing customers to shape your brand’s long-term operational strategy and product direction. Enact this change by inviting customers into the design process, while reconfiguring retail infrastructure to respond to their real-time trends and behaviors. For example. makeup and skincare company Arfa promises 5% of its profit to the customers who participate in creating, testing, and marketing the products.

Piers Fawkes is founder of PSFK. Fawkes has inspiring leading brands, retailers and their partners on trends and innovation since 2004.

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