The media are constantly reporting that retail is struggling and store closures are imminent. We saw that happen at the end of 2016/2017 with TopShop closing it's New Zealand stores and Dick Smith shifting their business online only but things are beginning to look up for bricks-and-mortar stores.
Customers don't always want to just click an item online and add it to their shopping cart. As a customer, we want to be sold to and we want the whole experience.
eCommerce may be growing and yes, customers are using the online space for researching products. However, going by sales figures, bricks-and-mortar retail still reigns and NZ is really upping the game in regards to physical retail experiences!
RETAIL CENTRE EXPANSIONS
There are major shopping centre expansions currently in progress across the country like 277 Newmarket, Tauranga Crossing, Botany Town Centre and Sylvia Park to name but a few.
It has been exciting to see the combination of retail with top-quality hospitality. No, we’re not talking about your standard KFC, Muffin Break and McDonalds in the food court. We're talking “dining lanes”!
Just take a look at the success of Sylvia Park’s ‘The Grove’ so far. The new town square and dining pavilion has been open seven months and is thriving. Bringing a new mix of customers to the area during key mealtimes, seven-days a week with six new tasty eateries. People of all ages can find something to suit them and their palate while having the opportunity to shop right up until 7pm.
NEW STORES AND EASIER WAYS TO PAY
Another encouraging sign that NZ retail is thriving is having major international fashion retailers coming to our shores. H&M has set up two multi-level stores in both Auckland and Christchurch in under a year and Zara has taken two large spaces in Sylvia Park.
In addition to that, nearly all New Zealand banks now have PayWave, Apple Pay or Google Pay - making face-to-face shopping easier than ever. There's also AfterPay, Part Pay, and Laybuy options now available at most major retailers which makes it even easier encourage purchase.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAINING
The cornerstone to surviving as a face-to-face retailer is now customer experience. You need to be able to provide your customer with something that they can't find in an online store, like amazing sales and service. Providing quality retail sales training for your team can help them to aid and interact with the customer more effectively, and make more sales. Techniques such as uncovering needs and FABs can allow for a more consultative sell than would be possible online. The customer benefits from a more efficient sale and the guarantee they have found a product suited to their needs.
WHAT ELSE CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE?
We expect to see online and in-store become further integrated in the future as consumers increasingly want to hear about the features, advantages, and benefits of a product and feel valued. They will want to continue to research items online - it's the new window shopping - and then come in-store to be fully converted.
Consumers will also continue to want items ASAP because let's be honest, we're impatient. Showing available sizes/styles in-store and offering in-store pickups will further help fuse together the online and in-store brand experience.