Retail revival: Five tips independent stores can learn from their luxury counterparts

While caution and precaution is still priority number one, a wave of excitement and momentum is gently building through the Australian retail industry as retailers begin to reopen their doors and welcome their loyal customers back into stores.

Although we’re all hoping for a swift return to ‘normal’, it’s likely that in-store shopping will look a little different – for now, at least – as retailers adapt to the changing landscape. As we enter what promises to be a strange, evolving ‘new normal’, they must continue to seek inspiration from those around them, such as their high-end luxury counterparts.

High-end luxury stores benefit from being able to provide a luxuriorious, exclusive experience, and it’s exactly this which has allowed many brands, such as Hermes, Montblanc and Prada, to either reopen their doors weeks ago, or even continue to operate throughout the pandemic. This exclusive experience – from the number of people allowed in stores, to the physical layout of the store itself – lends itself to social distancing. Now, as we head into the new retail spring, independent retailers may be able to learn from their tactics to drive foot traffic, and master the post-lockdown retail environment.

Market your existing stock as relevant, now

Not every retailer can pivot to sell hand sanitiser or face masks, but you can still be relevant to your customers if you position your stock correctly to meet the needs and wants of today’s shoppers. For instance, it’s likely many people will still be working from home for some time, or at least more than they did before the pandemic, so if you sell homewares, promote all the products they need to bring their home office grand designs to life. Or, if you’re a clothing retailer, consider positioning your range as loungewear, or something to wear while people are working from home. Viktoria and Woods, for example, directs customers to its ‘working from home’ range, providing customers with clothing perfect for days spent at home during lockdown.

Design captivating window displays

The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ has rarely been more true than for a retailer’s window display, which is often a customer’s first interaction with a business. Make a good first impression with attention-grabbing displays which are attractive and timely. High-end fashion retailers do this particularly well, so look out for what they do and see how you could translate their success to your store.

Create the allure of exclusivity

Many brands understand the power of exclusivity in creating a high perceived value. When Chanel confirmed that it would increase prices during the pandemic, shoppers in South Korea fell in line outside its stores. While not every retailer has the allure and brand perception of Chanel, if it makes sense for your business, promote exclusivity around your brand and products. For instance, this could involve promoting products that only you have, or offering a limited range of a particular line so that once it sells out, it’s gone. By creating a sense of urgency, you might find that your customers act fast so as not to miss out. And if you have sought-after products, ensure the right people know about them.

Know your customers and communicate with them

Many luxury brands dedicate their resources to getting to know their most valued customers and their shopping preferences and, as a result, have extensive marketing databases to offer exclusive and special promotions. If you haven’t already, consider organising your customer database and send out communications informing customers of your reopening plans, how your business is conforming with health and safety requirements and, perhaps most importantly, everything they should be excited about regarding your business.

Prioritise health and safety

As customers begin venturing out to resume their usual day-to-day activities post-lockdown, it’s important to ensure they remain safe and comfortable wherever they go – including in your store. To do so, consider limiting the number of people allowed in store at any one time. Depending on your business model, consider introducing appointments, like Louis Vuitton, instead of encouraging walk-ins. If this is something you explore, ensure to schedule each appointment with ample time between customers so you and your team can thoroughly clean before the next shopper comes in.

It’s undoubtedly an exciting time for customers and retailers alike, both of whom are gently returning to physical stores,face-to-face interactions and delightful retail experiences. However, whatever stage your retail recovery, it’s likely your foot traffic will look and act a little different in a post-restriction world. But by seeking inspiration from those around you and relying on your tech savvys and retail smarts you should be well placed to master the evolving retail spring.

Written by Dave Scheine, APAC Managing Director, Vend



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