Although the obituaries are already being planned for some of Australia’s retail outlets, The Future Laboratory’s Chris sanderson says they can be saved if they raise their game digitally. And quickly.
Sanderson, who is the co-founder of UK trend predictors The Future Laboratory, is currently in Australia for their Retail Future Forums in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and says Australian retail is suffering due to being slow on the digital uptake.
He told B&T: “The key things over the last 10 years is that the Australian consumer has driven change, not the Australian brand or retailer.
“The Australian retailer continues to play catch up with the consumer who is way ahead of them in terms of technology and engagement with technology.
“Traditionally the Australian retail departments have been extremely slow understanding what they’re customer needs and have been very slow to respond.
“If you think about installing Wi-Fi within the store environment or moving to mobile, they’ve not been the quickest to actually think about where the consumer is.”
Sanderson, who was joined at Retail Future Forums by the likes of Peter Fitzgerald, Google country sales director, and Naomi Milgrom, CEO of Sportsgirl/Sussan, says that New York and London are leading the way when it comes to the “notion of total retail”, which is offering the customer the whole brand experience.
He insists bricks and mortar are here to stay, the retail outlets that are tech-savvy are the ones that will remain, adding, “it’s very important that we remain in context when we look at the whole ‘bricks vs clicks’ argument.
“That’s why we talk at The Future Laboratory about this notion of ‘total retail’ because research that is currently been done indicates that successful retailers are the ones who understand that to target their consumers most successfully, they need a combination of online and offline retail presence, this notion of ‘total retail’.”
And he cites department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and global brand Burberry as the bastions of multi-platform power brands who are all way ahead of Australian retailers with their apps, Google Hangouts and other platforms.
He adds: “If you look at Burberry, they continue to be a perfect example within a parallel of how you create multi-platforms, engagement with the customer, through apps, and then through other mechanisms.”