Retail's future may be found in museums: Clear boss

Retail's future may be found in museums: Clear boss

Retail shops fail when they focus on only one of the three sales drivers of product, service and price, James Osmond, global CEO and a founder of Clear told a gathering of marketing professionals in Sydney this week.

The UK-based head of the global marketing strategy business said that Australia could learn lessons from the UK, which he quipped Napoleon Bonaparte had described as a nation of shopkeepers.

He said that while there were always exceptions to general rules, such as Aldi, “you can’t win on price alone anymore”. Nor could you simply rely on a product’s unique qualities or the customer service you provided.

He pointed to the recent example in the UK where Burberry has turned one of its flag ship stores into an omni-channel experience including such things as a “digitally enabled cultural space” and interactive mirrors.

Closer to home, General Pants last week unveiled its iPad kiosks to provide an in-store digital experience.

Depending on the type of product controlled the level of exposure to online erosion of sales, said Osmond. Obvious categories such as music, video, books and electrical were highly volatile, while more experience-based retail categories such as restaurants and clothing were less exposed.

They key to experience remaining high for some products was that ‘social’ was still best experienced in person. In other words shopping with friends was always going to be a superior experience for some people rather than shopping online, said Osmond.

However at the volatile end, some shops were fighting back, like bookstores, which were now curating products by reader demographic as opposed to genre, in effect copying the Amazon model of “readers also bought”.

Eventually, more and more stores would need to become like museums and art galleries, focusing on their ability to curate products that would draw in shoppers for an experience rather than just compete on service and price.


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