Archive for November, 2021

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While many feared that the pandemic would result in deserted high streets, the reality is that more retail stores have opened than have closed. According to one study from over the pond, shared by Retail Customer Experience, national retailers have announced 3,199 store openings but just 2,548 closures in the past year to date.

The pandemic has, though, inspired some digital pure plays to reconsider their customer journey and launch physical stores. Such brands are new to in-store operations and in-person experiential retail, meaning they need to create new competencies and capabilities that meet consumers wherever they may be – and on their terms. 

Here are three tips to help retailers succeed when adjusting to the ‘real world’.

1. Understand customer expectations 

Product discovery is a key factor tempting shoppers in-store – in fact, a pre-pandemic Oracle study found that this was a priority stage in the buyer journey for 36% of consumers. A good reason to make stores immersive, exciting and potentially interactive spaces to trial new products.

Empty shelves are a huge bugbear among shoppers, however. An Oracle study from this year found that out-of-stock items topped the list of what constitutes a poor shopping experience for 34% of consumers. A third (33%) admitted that they would try another brand rather than wait for the item to come back in store, while 27% admitted they’d go to another retailer. A fully-stocked inventory is therefore a must. 

Understandably, a safety-first approach is key for retailers opening stores. Eight in ten shoppers say they’d be willing to visit a physical store provided there are safety precautions in place, including robust cleaning procedures and mask wearing. 

2. Utilise retail tech 

Digital brands already have a wealth of tools and technology insights at their disposal; they now need to work out how to translate these into the real world. Harnessing the correct technology is key, and selecting a quality POS and retail platform will also be crucial to in-store operational success. 

Regardless of channel, shoppers prioritise convenience from their experience with brands. In-store, this takes the form of measures such as self-service checkouts, pay-by-link/QR code and BOPIS (buy online pick up in-store).

Other essential technology includes a forecasting platform that enables retailers to estimate daily foot traffic and get prepared ahead of the notoriously busy end-of-year season. 

3. Upgrade staff training 

Consumers are returning to stores with renewed expectations and demands, and staff must be trained sufficiently in order to meet these. Shoppers will want to know what’s on offer, if more stock is available, and which check-out lane is fastest. Over four in ten (44%) shoppers said unhelpful staff defined a poor shopping experience. 

Retailers moving from online to in-store can empower their staff with technology such as mobile devices or tablets. These tools can help staff find items and inventory, highlight individual shopper profiles, make recommendations and even double up as a POS – ultimately, helping them deliver an exceptional in-store experience. 

If you need help perfecting your in-store strategy, we’ve got the skills, tools and know-how – get in touch:

While there are many people who don’t like to hear the ‘C’ word mentioned until at least the start of December, retailers will no doubt be keen to keep abreast of trends in holiday shopping ahead of the festive season. 

A study from American Express, shared by Forbes, revealed that almost half (48%) of consumers have kicked off their holiday shopping earlier this year, rising to 63% among millennials. This is in part down to fears around product shortages and supply chain problems that could impact retailers in the weeks to come. 

While Amex quizzed US consumers for its study, the results would no doubt be similar among Brit shoppers. 

Stephanie Schultz, VP and head of emerging partnerships at Amex Digital Labs, said the data from the Amex Trendex “points to a more festive holiday season” compared to 2021, with consumers not only shopping earlier but also putting up decorations to get in the festive spirit. 

So, what are people buying? 

The survey results seem to indicate that health and wellbeing-related products remain a priority among shoppers. Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents told Amex that they wish to buy presents that will help the recipient de-stress.

The pandemic saw support for local shops surge – and this hasn’t gone away. In fact, 81% of those polled for the survey believe that it’s important to buy small gifts that support local and/or small businesses, and 72% said the same for decorations.

Sustainability is still front of mind for many consumers, too: over six in ten (63%) believe that it’s important to buy ethically sourced gifts and 56% said this of decorations. Similar percentages said that they are shopping for presents or decorations that are sustainable or limit their impact on the environment, at 64% and 61% respectively.

The results clearly indicate that people are ramping up the festive cheer this year. Almost half (48%) plan to get the decorations out earlier in order to feel merrier, while 51% are doing so to make their homes feel more festive as they plan to spend more time there than usual. Over half (52%) said they are looking forward to creating new Christmas traditions. 

If you need any help perfecting your festive strategy, why not find out more about our services and solutions? Get in touch with our experts today:

There was a time when beauty was considered something of a luxury – products you bought for a special occasion. Not any more.

Today, beauty is about giving people the means to express themselves. Thanks to social media, digital access and huge volumes of online content, the beauty industry has been transformed. Consumers are doing their research to discover product ingredients, trending items, and the latest skincare regimes. Through this research they are also starting to explore the worlds of D2C brands, digital shopping platforms, beauty tech, and VR.

Millennials and Gen Zers are leading this change and have turned the industry on its head over the past few years.

But just when the industry was poised to undergo a massive transformation, the pandemic hit. And this was when things started to get really interesting…

Covid-19 created a new normal for the beauty industry. Skincare, haircare, body health, hygiene and safety have all grown in importance as self-care and at-home pampering took centre stage. With access to beauty stores limited, DIY and home care remedies became the norm. And thanks to mask-wearing, the sale of eye make-up also shot up.

There was a drop in makeup sales, but this is not expected to last. What is predicted to stick, however, is the focus on skincare, haircare and bodycare.

Customer behaviour also changed. Consumers want more ease and convenience from their shopping experiences and to be able to discover, evaluate and purchase products online. This quest for greater personalisation is driving more customers to use virtual try-on tools, video consultations, WhatsApp shopping and home delivery.

Expectations around delivery have also shifted, with fast, cheap, direct to consumers’ doors being seen as must-haves rather than nice-to-haves.

Consumers are increasingly looking for affordability and value for money. Many feel unsure what the future holds in terms of employment. Potential job losses and a decline in disposable income are creating an uncertain future.

As a result, products and brands in the mass and masstige markets will be well placed in the coming months – especially if they are able to deliver superior ingredients, product performance, and efficacy. There has also been a rise in the number of skin minimalism and multipurpose products available at affordable prices.

No one can deny the economic impact Covid has had on the entire retail sector. However, the signs suggest the beauty industry may be more resistant to the magnitude of lockdowns, restrictions and the emergence of the new normal than many of us suspected.

There have been signs of recovery within bricks and mortar stores. Even with digital transformation happening alongside, physical retail spaces are still looking strong. This is down to a number of reasons, one being that millennials and Gen Z are very particular about their beauty needs. Many want to buy products in stores where they can hold, smell and trial products before they make a purchase. 

There’s also the fact that consumers in general have been keen to get back onto the high street. Needless to say, the beauty industry is hoping to maximise on this resurgence and certainly won’t go down without a fight.

One way they are preparing themselves for that battle is through technology. By using tech to deliver data and enrich insights, beauty retailers are able to better understand what customers want from their retail experience.

Today’s consumers want to know more about the products they are buying and the ethics and identity of the brands behind those products. They want the items they buy to reflect who they are. Specifically, they want things like sustainability, inclusivity, adaptability, empathy, and relevance placed high on the agenda.

At The Delta Group, we help beauty brands and retailers show they have purpose, offer value for money, and are prioritising the environment and society. Get in touch with the team today to find out how we can help your business showcase your sustainability and purpose.

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Talk of sustainability is rife within the retail sector, especially since COP26. Brands are knuckling down on sustainability messaging, and in many cases technology is being utilised to bring such initiatives to life. 

As Computer Weekly explains, before the pandemic retail tech innovation focused on merging digital and physical assets, delivering frictionless customer journeys, AR experiences and big screens. While these are still very much front of mind for retailers, tech is now increasingly being used to support their green agendas. 

So says retail analyst Miya Knights: “It’s not a fad that will be here today but gone tomorrow […] It’s certainly the new shiny thing, but it’s also a permanent fixture.”

Knights explained how retailers often provide services that fill a gap among local council services, for instance offering collection schemes for hard-to-recycle plastics, which are backed by tech. This tech is both innovative and supports long-term shifts in retailer and shopper behaviour. 

Scan to recycle 

Boots is leading the pack when it comes to scan to recycle schemes. In September it revealed that 700 of its stores would offer a Scan2Recycle service, where shoppers could recycle beauty product packaging and receive loyalty Advantage points in return. 

After registering on the Scan2Recycle app, shoppers simply scan their empty packaging and when they have five products in their virtual basket, use a QR code to deposit the products at an in-store collection point. Advantage points totalling £2.50 are issued for every five products recycled. 

Over half a million empties were taken back during the initiative’s trial period, despite the enduring pandemic and numerous lockdowns that took place during that time. 

“We hypothesised that – because of the reward – it appeals to consumers who wouldn’t traditionally recycle,” noted Alistair Morelli, co-founder of Metrisk, which is running the scheme and built the technology. 

Data is central to the scheme: Boots can learn exactly which brands and items consumers recycle the most, as well as popular locations. 

Aside from beauty, scan to recycle technology is helping supermarkets including Morrisons and Co-up to collect unwanted electrics, helping limit e-waste in the UK. 

QR codes and blockchain 

Digital re-commerce business musicMagpie is another company helping to support more recycling of electricals. 

It will be in 295 Asda stores by 2022, with consumers able to utilise its facilities to get a recycling quote for their mobile, dispose of their device and get a sum of money for it immediately. A trial rolled out across 40 stores proved a great success; musicMagpie took in approximately 3,000 phones in 10 months, paying around £800,000 to customers.

Fellow supermarket giant, Tesco, is playing its part by encouraging shoppers to download the Loop app via QR codes, which grants them access to a reusable grocery packaging scheme. 

Then there’s Costa Coffee, which has rolled out a six-month reusable cup scheme ‘Burt’ – borrow, use, reuse, take-back. Coffee drinkers put down a £5 deposit to access the scheme and receive a metal drinks container. 

Scanning the QR code on the drinks container, customers can pair it with their personal account which is tracked via blockchain technology. When the cup is taken back to a Costa, it’s unlinked from the person’s account and machine washed before being used for the next Burt consumer.

These are just some of the many ways tech is helping to support brands’ sustainability initiatives. No doubt the topic is high on your agenda, too – if you need a little help turning ideas into action, get in touch:

With rising emissions and global temperatures, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow couldn’t have happened soon enough. Massive cuts in carbon are required if the Paris Agreement targets (limiting global warming to well below 2°C, ideally under 1.5°C), are to be met. At present, the world is not coming anywhere close to meeting either target. Something needs to happen. And fast.

We’ve heard all sorts of ESG announcements from businesses. However, the fear is that these pledges – like so many others – will fall by the wayside.  

Retail, just like every other sector, needs to step up in the fight against climate change. Moving away from empty promises, retailers have a duty to make significant changes that offer customers simpler, more convenient ways to shop sustainably. In other words, retailers need to close the gap between what they say and what they actually do to improve their sustainability practices. 

Covid-19 has fast-tracked social consciousness into the minds of consumers. As a result, the ongoing pandemic is also informing the decisions being made by retailers and brands to give customers what they want. Today’s consumers increasingly expect retailers to demonstrate genuine net zero commitments in their activities.  

We’re already familiar with trends such as omnichannel and a move towards more frictionless or virtual marketplaces. But what can we expect in 2022? Looking to the coming year, we can expect retailers to hone in on key sustainability trends including renewed focus on the circular economy, returns, and partnerships.  

Here’s a look at these three trends in more detail. 

1. Circular economy: Good news for the consumer, business, and the planet 

Companies that upcycle and recycle clothes are increasing in popularity among consumers. In 2022, we will see a surge in investment in these companies. Second-hand products offer consumers items that are unique and more affordable than other options. And who can deny the thrill of finding a bargain one-off piece?

Circular fashion that extends a product’s lifecycle makes perfect sense for the planet. But it also makes good business sense: according to research by Forrester, 49% of the UK’s consumers prefer to buy environmentally sustainable products. And where consumers go, business always follows. It’s estimated that the circular economy will attract billions of pounds worth of investment in 2022. 

2. Returns: Time to move into the spotlight 

For a long time, returns have been placed in the ‘boring but necessary’ category of retail. But after months of lockdowns and restrictions, consumers appreciate how important a smooth, stress-free returns process can be. Now is the time for the humble return to shine and retailers will find that returns will soon become a hot differentiator.  

Around three in five UK consumers prefer retailers that offer free returns, while about two in five would sooner shop with retailers that provide refunds via the original form of payment. Retailers will also be interested to hear that fear of returns processes actually deters a third of consumers from making an online purchase.  

The way retailers will address this in the coming year is through more investment (e.g locations, issuing of refunds, and more streamlined processes). They will also do what they can to share data internally and upgrade how products are presented to consumers to reduce the number of items being returned in the first place. 

3. Partnerships: Unlikely bedfellows will become incredible retail partners 

Retail partnerships of all shapes and sizes will hold the key to growth in 2022. Faced with a market in turmoil (not helped by the pandemic), smart retailers and brands realise they need to reinvent themselves if they are to continue to appeal to consumers. For many looking to improve their business agility, this will mean partnering with organisations they would have previously dismissed.  

We can expect to see established retailers partnering with direct-to-consumer brands who are keen to expand their reach in often prime locations. Plus, we’ll see more retailers investing in retail media networks (ad placements sold on retailer websites and in-store to brand partners and marketers) to boost revenue. These ad formats offer an effective – and often highly profitable – revenue stream that reaches active, alert shoppers. 

At Delta, we’re committed to helping retailers and brands breathe life into their sustainability plans, and making sure spoken promises turn into positive actions. To find out how we can help your business take sustainability to new levels, get in touch with the team today:

The world is changing before our eyes. As more examples of extreme weather hit the headlines (wildfires in Greece, the US and Australia; cyclones in Fiji and Indonesia; flooding in the UK, Germany, China, India and the US, to name a few), the climate emergency we’re facing couldn’t be more apparent – or more urgent. 

The UK government’s Net Zero Strategy sets out the country’s road map towards net zero emission by 2050, including plans to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and switch to low carbon travel options like electric vehicles.  

The world needs to move towards net zero. But what does this mean for businesses still reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic?  

The events and exhibition industry was hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with a sense of ongoing uncertainty even as restrictions are lifted and the world returns to its new ‘normal’. With so many other priorities, how much time and effort can the industry realistically spend on this issue? When you start to dig a little, the answer is perhaps more than you might imagine… 

Speaking to Exhibition World about sustainability in the industry, Stephanie Mathas, CSR and sustainability manager at RAI Amsterdam and chair of UFI’s Sustainable Development Working Group explained: “Climate change and the way we treat our planet will have an impact on all of us.”  

She highlights the need to act now, saying: “We are seeing more and more attention worldwide for sustainability. I expect that this will only increase. Doing nothing is no longer an option.” 

November’s COP26 conference in Glasgow certainly helped place sustainability firmly in the spotlight. During the event we saw the new Net Zero Carbon Events initiative (a joint commitment across the events industry to achieve the targets laid out in the Paris Climate Accord) being backed by a number of leading industry associations including UFI, ICCA, and AIPC. 

As James Rees, president of ICCA and JMIC stated: “The events industry has a special role to play in tackling climate change. We provide the meeting places and market places to work on solutions to the climate crisis. At the same time, we have a responsibility to minimise our own impact on climate change.” 

The initiative is collaborative and inclusive, identifying the commitments required to reduce and neutralise event-related greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the pressure caused by the pandemic, sustainability remains a key priority for exhibitions and their participants. But there is still a long way to go. A report looking at sustainability in exhibition, published by UFI, revealed that just over one third of exhibitors and visitors ‘would not attend a trade show that does not have a responsible approach to sustainability.’ 

Increasing pressure from investors is focused on demands to see ‘green’ portfolios from companies. According to the UFI report, investments from the exhibition industry for programmes related to sustainability had not been as affected in the same way as others. 

As Mathas explains: “We don’t have the luxury to slow down.” It’s not a case of companies moving towards ‘more sustainable’. Something is either sustainable or it is not. Suffice to say, the industry still has much work to do. 

We are now at a point where businesses cannot choose to ‘get back on their feet’ before starting to think about sustainability. That ship has sailed. More to the point, no business can even start to get back on track without sustainability at the heart of what they do. 

This quest for net zero is likely to bring with it greater regulation. And rightly so. If you are operating a company that creates carbon emissions, it makes sense to expect regulation. 

So, what’s the ideal scenario? An events industry delivered by a net zero supply chain? Total transparency about the carbon footprint of every event? This future doesn’t have to be a pipedream. It can be a reality – as long as changes are made now and sustainability becomes the industry’s top priority. Starting with its leaders. 

Are you looking to move your business towards net zero? The team at Delta can help – get in touch to find out more:

Huge strides have been made in recent years towards greater sustainability within the beauty industry. We’ve seen a boom in beauty products that are better for the planet and people, 

with ingredients and packaging in many cases, being given a complete eco-overhaul. 

However, unless we see more positive customer perception, it’s hard to imagine how the sustainable beauty industry can be an outright success, reports CosmeticsDesign-Europe

Last year, the two top beauty trends to watch in the EMEA region (identified by CosmeticsDesign-Europe) were green beauty and self-care society. These two concepts see the worlds of good-for-the-planet and good-for-me (aka wellbeing) collide. Together, they encapsulate the move towards more mindful consumption. 

Speaking at SEPAWA 2021, Tina Choi-Odenwald, research director and head of beauty and home at market research firm GIM explained how mindful consumption was becoming an increasingly crucial customer trend throughout the beauty industry and beyond. 

There are all sorts of words that tap into the realm of mindful consumption. These include: sustainable, natural, organic, ethical, eco-friendly, and healthy, to name but a few. 

As a result, when we talk about mindful consumption, it’s as complex as it is holistic. According to Choi-Odenwald: “It’s about the environment and sustainability, but also health aspects, for example, doing something good to respect yourself, your body, and also respect others.” 

From a customers’ point of view, this level of complexity can seem like a bit of a minefield. For instance, some terms – such as ‘sustainable’ – have different interpretations for different people. 

According to a recent GIM online survey, there are five customer perceptions of sustainability. These are: climatic sustainability; resource sustainability; ecological sustainability; social responsibility; and economic sustainability. 

Two of those were found to be front of mind for consumers when it comes to sustainability: resource sustainability (saving vital resources such as water, food and land), and ecological sustainability (protecting the world’s precious ecosystem). That’s not to say the other definitions are deemed unimportant to customers, rather that climatic sustainability, for example, is not what immediately comes to mind when they hear the word ‘sustainable’. 

Choi-Odenwald went on to speak about customers being driven by the desire to buy ‘better for the environment’ and ‘better for me’. However, central to this is customer perception. Unless a consumer perceives a product as completely sustainable and buys it, it can never really be deemed a success. 

Sometimes, reality doesn’t necessarily align with consumer beliefs. Take a plastic bottle, for example. The first thing customers see when they look at it is that plastic bottle floating in the sea. By contrast, glass cardboard and paper carry far more positive connotations for consumers – despite these not always offering the most sustainable alternative. 

The answer lies in education. Manufacturers and brands that have well-refined, sustainable packaging need to communicate its benefits clearly and concisely to the consumer.

As for whether brands need to focus their efforts on sustainability perceptions or sustainability actions, it comes down to a balancing act. Education can help inform customer perceptions and help the industry move towards true sustainability. However, it’s important not to patronise customers. Ultimately, it’s about genuinely trying to make positive changes on a global level through actions. 

Another consideration for brands and retailers is that there can sometimes be a gap between customer belief, mind and behaviour. For instance, many consumers see fair trade or environmental protection as important. Yet, when they are shopping they don’t always make purchases based on those convictions. That’s not always the case, but it can happen – and for a number of reasons. 

Those reasons can be anything from price to convenience to routine. There can also be a belief behaviour gap which is linked to the perceived performance and end results of a product. In the beauty sphere, some consumers might think that sustainable products do not perform as strongly as non-sustainable products.

Other reasons consumers are interested in sustainability but are reluctant to invest in it include a lack of knowledge, transparency and conviction.

At Delta, we help retailers and brands showcase their authenticity and credibility to achieve sustainable beauty success. To find out how we can help your business, get in touch today:

With experiential all the rage in retail, live stream shopping events and experiences are the next logical step. 

The live stream video shopping market was worth £3.35 billion in 2018. Add the Covid-19 pandemic and the trend has accelerated, Retail Gazette explains, with more retailers using live streaming to reach those stuck at home during lockdown and appeal to a wider audience.

The question now is whether these live streamed events will continue to grow in popularity or slowly be phased out. 

During lockdown, live streaming was a great way to keep customers engaged and offer an alternative to bricks-and-mortar stores. Today, with restrictions eased, retailers are looking at more hybrid models of working. If retailers are to stay ahead of the curve, innovative ways of engaging with audiences (such as live streaming) are sure to stay on the priority list – even with physical stores reopened. 

The key will be building on top of traditional channels – from online video appointments to live shopping and online catwalk shows.

According to Michael Levitz, chief business officer at Reaktor: “Live shopping is the next evolution of what it means to truly connect with a consumer.” 

Levitz explained that customers keep coming back – and not just for research or purchasing. These events are hyper-personalised, creating stronger bonds between the audience and brands, products and personalities. From Gucci Live which offers one-to-one shopping experiences, to Telfar.TV which gives viewers exclusive access to limited edition items obtained via QR codes, brands are incorporating live streaming into their offering. 

One of the reasons live streaming is proving to be so popular is because it brings a human touch to ecommerce. As Levitz adds: “It’s also a great way for retailers to tap into the influencer marketing sphere if they haven’t done so already. 

“It’s a huge trend worldwide and becoming a staple part of how to best connect with consumers.” 

So, for retailers looking to get involved, how do experiences translate into sales? The answer lies in the links. They do all the hard work – increasing awareness, promoting related items and encouraging purchases. 

Live streaming has huge potential largely because it offers so much to so many people. It’s entertaining – fitting into our virtual, gamified world. It’s educational – showcasing products and answering consumers’ questions. It creates a sense of community – giving a social aspect that might be lacking from other ecommerce channels. And it also creates a sense of urgency – the excitement created by a product launch, exclusive deal or real-time content is hard to match. 

At Delta, we help retailers and brands better connect with their customers. Find out how we can help you create a relationship-building digital strategy today:

The pace of change in the retail industry has been gathering momentum over the last decade. Add a global pandemic to the mix and that change has accelerated further still. 

We’ve seen the overall percentage of ecommerce sales in the UK increase to over a third of all retail in November 2020 and January 2021. Website traffic has increased, yet still the appeal of bricks-and-mortar stores remains strong. 

According to eMarketer, even though physical retail will decrease this year, it will still account for 62.5% of the retail landscape. Meanwhile, a survey carried out by BigCommerce and PayPal revealed that more than 40% of shoppers would still rather buy items in a physical store than online. 

But what does this mean for the future of fashion retail? 

In essence, retailers need to be ready to adapt their strategies. They need a hybrid approach that shines a light on the omnichannel customer journey. In other words, they need to be where their customers are. This means creating a streamlined experience from the moment a consumer sees a product advertised through to purchase, delivery and returns. 

One thing is clear: the lines between online and offline retail experiences are blurred, creating new opportunities along the way.  

Here are three trends fashion retailers need to keep on their radars over the coming year. 

1. Fulfilment as a priority for physical stores 

In the UK, click and collect has been popular for some time. Up to 64% of retailers offer it as a service. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it even more popular. 

Findings of the Fashion United 2021 Consumer Spending Trends report revealed that numerous shoppers like click and collect because it allowed them to avoid shipping fees. Meanwhile, other research confirms that it is the immediacy of in-store shopping that keeps customers stepping through the doors. 

This focus on click and collect suggests retailers will be using it more creatively to encourage shoppers to visit physical stores. That could be encouraging website visitors to pre-order exclusive or limited-edition items, which can be collected at a certain time from a bricks-and-mortar store. Or, retailers could offer same-day delivery for customers living within a certain radius of a store. Not strictly click and collect, but one way retailers can take full ownership of the fulfilment process and end-to-end experience. 

2. The rise (and rise) of contactless 

More and more consumers are making their smartphones work harder, using them to make contactless payments both online and in-store. We are also seeing in-store digital shopping experiences making good headway. 

Of course, in some countries, this is by no means a new concept. In China, for example, customers have been using apps to scan QR codes to discover more about products long before the pandemic hit. But not all contactless needs to be that extreme. Even just removing the need to speak to a salesperson to find an item can create a more seamless shopping experience. 

Today’s consumers expect to be able to find the exact location of a product using their phone. They also want to know how many items are in stock, and whether there are any discounts or promotions attached to that item. 

3. Reality? As long as it’s augmented or virtual… 

Back in the 1990s, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) were widely hailed as the next big thing. However, they never really gained the traction many believed they would. Today, finally, it seems their time has come. Not least, because this technology is being put to use helping shoppers make better, more informed decisions about the products they are buying – both in-store and online. 

AR is being used by retailers to help guide customers through a store to locate the items they need faster. It is also being used to virtually place products – for example, Ikea customers virtually placing pieces of furniture in their homes to see how they looked. Meanwhile, VR can be used to give online shoppers the chance to browse bricks-and-mortar stores as if they were there in person. 

Fashion, too, is embracing this technology. Retailers are using it to help customers see how certain items will look on their bodies – a step that both enhances the ecommerce experience, but also reduces the number of online sales returns. 

And it works both ways. AR and VR can be used to show in-store customers whether a particular hair colour or make-up product will suit them before they buy it. Are you ready to leverage these trends and move towards a more holistic omnichannel retail approach?

The team at Delta can help you create a seamless hybrid shopping experience across all touchpoints. Get in touch to find out more: 

A transformation is taking place across the retail sector. And luxury is no exception.  

The move away from bricks-and-mortar stores towards digital platforms is continuing apace. Research reveals that the proportion of luxury online sales almost doubled to 23% (from 12%) between 2019 and 2020. That equates to five years of growth in just 12 months.  

Luxury brand purchases are on track to become dominated by digital by 2025. So, it comes as no surprise to hear that physical stores are turning their attention away from transactional and towards experiential.  

But there are other changes taking place in the luxury retail sector, too. For one, today’s customers expect a more personalised shopping experience. Plus, they want exceptional customer service across all touchpoints. Thanks to the Amazons and Netflixes of the world, the stakes are high. 

Customers want more choice, convenience and competitive pricing when they are on their purchasing journey. Meanwhile, high-spending customers expect all of those things as well as club lounge-style, one-to-one assistance. 

But that’s not all luxury retail is having to deal with right now. The sector is also facing the challenge of defining what the customer experience means to them and their customers in the digital age when customer expectations are rising so fast. 

Here are four ways the luxury retail sector is evolving right now.

1. Streamlining the in-store and online experience 

Luxury brand physical stores have a challenge on their hands. If high rents and business taxes weren’t enough to deal with, the pandemic has added to their woes. In 2020, the luxury market as a whole (both goods and experiences) shrank by 20%, dragging the sector back by six years. 

This year, it is anticipated the market will recover 50% of 2020’s profit loss – however, that won’t be enough to bring it back to pre-2019 levels. 

For too long, legacy luxury stores and online luxury shopping have simply existed alongside one another. It’s time for that to change; for the two to behave less like silos and more like an integrated system. 

Rather than being mutually exclusive, there needs to be a shift in the education and culture that exists within these organisations. If anything, the pandemic has helped shine a light on the urgency for these changes to take place and help luxury brands to move in the right direction.

2. Technology: A help and a hindrance

While technology presents a wealth of opportunity to luxury brands, it can also create a huge obstacle. Legacy systems, manual input of product data, and other out-of-date processes are the bane of many brands’ lives. They create a significant stumbling block in the quest to coordinate online and offline systems.  

Databases are siloed, while clunky ecommerce systems often sit separate to third-party ERP platforms or EPOS systems. For anyone keen to know the overall stock position of a company at any given time, they’ve got their work cut out. 

Historically, many IT issues can be traced to the boardroom. With limited understanding of digital technology around the C-suite, there has been equally limited investment in the necessary technology platforms. Fortunately, things are now moving in the right direction. 

3. More focus on supply chains and stock 

Let’s be clear: stock control can cause a real headache at the best of times. Items are continually moving from warehouse to store, store to store, and back from store to warehouse. Sometimes all in one day. Every movement creates a high carbon footprint, eats up valuable employee time, and narrows profit margins. 

But in the world of online shopping, stock control is key. No consumer wants to see ‘item out of stock’ pop up on a brand’s website. To avoid lost sales and allow consumers to check availability online or in-store via their mobile phones, brands need to focus on their supply chains and stock management tools. A single inventory view is absolutely essential. 

4. The value of customer insights 

In today’s digitally fuelled world of retail, virtually anything and everything can be tracked. The direction in which luxury brands are now headed has to be driven by the findings of this data translated into key actions. Consumer purchasing behaviours are changing all the time, and strategies will fall short without the right insights in place. 

The merging of online and offline channels in luxury retail is vital. Yet some brands are just starting to understand how their digital presence and online channels can compliment their bricks-and-mortar stores. At the heart of all this are customers’ wants and needs – that is, more personalised, interactive retail experiences. 

If you’d like to find out how your brand can reinvent its physical stores, maximise opportunity and focus on experiential retail, get in touch with Delta today: