Tweet There’s a word for South African (SA) retail: wild (which can be both positive and negative, as I’ll reveal later in this article). It’s unlike anything we see in mature Western markets like the US, UK, and Australia, which seem relatively staid and tame by comparison. On a recent trip to the southern tip [...]
Tweet Over the last few years, “showrooming” has received a bad rap. This is the practice where a smartphone-enabled shopper goes into a physical store to touch and feel the merchandise, gets expert advice, and then compares prices on their device and purchases online elsewhere. The classic example is of a customer visiting a Barnes [...]
Tweet If there were an Olympics of shopping, the US would win hands down. This year, American shoppers will spend in excess of $4.6 trillion dollars on stuff, which equates to somewhere north of 25% of GDP (some estimates put the figure higher). The Brits by comparison lag behind with about 20% of GDP apportioned [...]
Tweet Some retail outings fill the shopper with sheer dread. “Horrorstör*” takes that notion one step further, by setting a “traditional haunted house story” in a fictional big box furniture retailer called Orsk. The store is eerily close in style to a certain well-known Scandinavian retailer, and the book looks and feels like one of [...]
Tweet Detroit is at once the American Dream and the American Nightmare. Built on automotive manufacturing, and turbo-charged by the construction of freeways in the 50’s and 60’s, the Motor City hit potholes in the 2000’s, with the Great Recession, a corrupt local government and a population decline of 25 percent in the first decade [...]
Tweet Flagship stores dot the major shopping thoroughfares of the big cities of the world. Often they are distinguished as much by their size as by their distinctiveness – they are monolithic versions of their mall-based cousins. Yes, they may have a feature or two – a massive digital screen here, a café there – [...]
Tweet The single most motivating notion in retail today can be boiled down to a single word – “Convenience.” I was reminded of that fact again early one day this week, when, dashing out the door with a slice of toast gripped between my teeth, I briefly caught a fascinating discussion on America’s NPR Morning [...]
Tweet Delivery drones are so 2013. The big news in technology in retail in 2014 and beyond is robots replacing humans. Starting just this week, right across the road from Apple in Cupertino, the Aloft hotel is testing robotic bellhops. As reported in The New York Times, the cute-as-a-button “Botlr” will deliver basic items from [...]
Tweet Hip. Seriously hip. Hilariously hip. Hipper than the hippest hipsters in Brooklyn, and that’s hyper hip. I’m talking about Portland, Oregon ‑ a compact, very livable, and very cool city in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I visited Portland recently as part of the WPP Intel Futurecasting Summit and naturally snuck in [...]
Tweet There is an alien creature that has arrived in our midst, with habits that would be completely unrecognizable to previous generations. And yet they are beginning to re-shape the landscape – tearing down old institutions and building up entirely new ones. I’m referring to the Future Shopper. And they live among us. (In fact, [...]
Posted on 27. Nov, 2012 by ideaworks.
Tweet For all the detractors of the Click Frenzy online shopping event (the Twitter hashtag #clickfail pretty much sums it up), I thought the sale provided some fascinating insights into how to motivate customers. In a world where we all have too much stuff, why did so many shoppers race to be part of the [...]
Posted on 26. Nov, 2012 by ideaworks.
Tweet In the lead-up to America’s biggest shopping weekend, IdeaWorks CEO Jon Bird spoke to Bloomberg’s Rishaad Salamat about Black Friday and the battle between online and offline stores. Watch video after the jump. (Source)
Posted on 04. Dec, 2012 by ideaworks.
Tweet A pair of giggling Japanese twenty-somethings pose in front of a virtual mirror in the strangely but aptly named “Humor Shop” in a Tokyo mall. They try on clothes and instantly upload the looks to social media sites, seeking comments from friends and family before purchasing. To my eyes, the scene couldn’t be more [...]
Posted on 07. Dec, 2012 by ideaworks.
Tweet This is the year when the tipping point in the globalisation of retail has been reached. This is the year when a uniquely American shopping event has caught the imagination of the world. I’m referring to Black Friday and its online counterpart Cyber Monday. On the fourth Thursday in November, Americans stuff themselves with [...]
Posted on 07. Jan, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet The Chinese have got it right. 2013 is the Year of the Snake, and strangely enough, the characteristics of the Snake are close to the customer type that retailers are facing now and in the near future. According to chinesezodiac.com, “Snakes are extremely analytical…they are effective at getting the things they want, even if [...]
Posted on 05. Feb, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet More than just a “Wow” factor, Cabela’s has what Bob Thorn* once memorably termed the “O.F.F.” – the Oh F*** Factor. Walk into one of the “world’s foremost outfitter’s” 40 megastores across the US and Canada and your reaction is likely to be just that – “Oh F***” – for a number of reasons. [...]
Posted on 11. Feb, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Who or what is a Warby Parker? Those two words were all the buzz at January’s National Retail Federation “Big Show” in New York, attended by over 27,000 retail passionates from all over the globe. While the name sounds like a rare breed of goose, or an effete English art college major*, Warby Parker [...]
Posted on 19. Feb, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet A fascinating argument has played out over the web in the last few days*. In the red corner, predicting the “absolute death of traditional retail”, Marc Andreessen, Silicon Valley investor and founder of Netscape. In the blue corner, contending that bricks-and-mortar still has its place, Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and regarded by many [...]
Posted on 26. Feb, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Cosmetics king Napoleon Perdis voiced the frustration of many shoppers last week when he warned Australian department stores to increase their staffing levels and training “so that customers feel there is a reason to go into them”. Quoted in the Fairfax press, Perdis urged DJ’s and Myer to “bite the bullet” or pay the [...]
Posted on 05. Mar, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Six months ago or so, I made a case in “Inside Retail” to end “Island Thinking”. Our shores are under attack from global retailers, I wrote, who are arriving like gleeful pirates, both digitally and physically. And we can either ignore the invasion, or fight fire with fire and join the new, internationalised world [...]
Posted on 18. Mar, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Great retail today is as much about selling ideas as it is selling merchandise (we all have too much stuff anyway). It’s about creating “movements” that customers can buy into, rather than just flogging them products that they may not even need. Over the last decade, Apple has been a master at this strategy [...]
Posted on 26. Mar, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Samsung recently launched its Galaxy S4 phone, which amongst other features, allows you to automatically scroll the screen with a roll of your eyes. At the same time, the blogosphere is abuzz with news that Apple might soon release an iWatch, the next step in wearable computing. Mobile devices are becoming more and more [...]
Posted on 09. Apr, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Eleven thousand kilometres is an awfully long way to go shopping. That’s how far I travelled recently on a trip to Santiago Chile, to see what I could find that was new and exciting in world retail. Granted, I was there to take part in the WPP* The Store Global Retail Forum. But I [...]
Posted on 16. Apr, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet In retail, as in business generally, execution is everything. The most brilliant plan or sensational strategy is just a mirage, unless it can be brought to life in the right way, in the right order, with military-precision. That’s always been one of Woolworths’ strengths, and their ex-CEO Roger Corbett’s insistence on “exquisite execution” has [...]
Posted on 23. Apr, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Suddenly physical is fashionable. Where not so long ago, pundits were predicting the death of bricks and mortar retail (and some still are), now it’s de rigueur to have a physical retail presence. Many online retailers are talking about setting up shop. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said in a C-Net interview late last [...]
Posted on 07. May, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet How big is the global shift to online sales? Picture the entire annual sales for retail in Australia in 2012. Then quadruple that figure. For this year, you can quintuple it. Citi’s Global E-Commerce Retail Outlook has just come across my desk, and the figures are fascinating. Citi quotes a recent report by eMarketer, [...]
Posted on 14. May, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet “If you want to understand how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.” Sandy Thompson, the global planning chief of ad agency Y&R often uses that saying, and it’s just as relevant to the world of retail as it is the sphere of communications. At the heart of the [...]
Posted on 21. May, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet We all know that Apple is the most successful retailer on the planet; that it changed the way that retail is delivered; and that it is responsible for many innovations we are starting to take for granted, like hands-on displays and hand-held EFTPOS. But what’s the next big thing in retail? In LA this [...]
Posted on 28. May, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Nothing can beat the physical experience of bricks and mortar retail. And nothing can match the digital efficiency of clicking (or touching) on a screen to research and buy. It’s now clearer than ever that 21st century retail must be about blending the two – a “Clicks & Mortar” collaboration, to quote Sabrina Lin, [...]
Posted on 04. Jun, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Over the last two weeks, I’ve been drinking from the fire hose of retail on the annual Westfield World Retail Study Tour – touring five world cities, listening to dozens of retail experts, visiting hundreds of stores and taking thousands of photographs. Recovering from all that intense retail stimulation, I reflected that great retail [...]
Posted on 11. Jun, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Retail is an ideas business. Ultimately what we sell – particularly in this post-consumer era – is a notion, a concept, and a promise of fulfillment. And if we get it right, we turn something that shoppers don’t necessarily need into an absolute must-have. That’s the true magic of the merchant. Wizards like Apple’s [...]
Posted on 18. Jun, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet I regularly receive decks-full of data about the rise of smartphone usage, and the rush to mobile devices generally. And the statistics are staggering (more on that later). But recently two sets of simple images brought it home for me. I suddenly realized just how much the world has changed in the last decade. [...]
Posted on 18. Jun, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Article by Steven Jacobs for streetfightmag.com The retail industry has seen a lot of change over the past five years. Amid a massive downturn in consumer spending and a growing e-commerce sector, some in the technology industry have forecast the complete collapse of brick-and-mortar retail. However, offline commerce still accounts for over 90% of [...]
Posted on 25. Jun, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Arnold Schwarzenegger as a role model for retailers? Come on, Jon. (Given the Terminator’s well-publicised infidelities, you may well question whether he is a role model for anyone.) But hear me out. Just last week, I listened intently as Arnie addressed an enthralled audience in Sydney, and it struck me that his five rules [...]
Posted on 02. Jul, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Right in the heart of Auckland is a little oasis of innovation in retail, paradoxically housed in and around a complex of renovated industrial buildings that once serviced the Auckland City Council. Back in the 60’s, sparks flew at CityWorks Depot as buses, trucks and road-building equipment were worked on. Now in the second [...]
Posted on 09. Jul, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet If your retail brand sidled up to you at a party, what would you do? Be entranced and engaged? Or run a mile? Like it or not, brands are people too, and the best brands are like the best party guests – charming, smart, open, interesting, but also considerate and empathetic. (They know when [...]
Posted on 23. Jul, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet The very model of a modern e-comm business is one built not just in bits and bytes, but bricks and mortar. Increasingly, that’s a given. But what’s more interesting to me is not the trend, but what the online guys are doing with the physical space, how they are reaping rewards, and how that [...]
Posted on 14. Aug, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet FMOT, SMOT, ZMOT…WTF? The first three acronyms are from the lexicon of “shopper marketing”, the last one a humble retailer’s exasperated “what the?” response. What does it all mean? And to use another truncation, is shopper marketing just so much BS from a bunch of (likely) MBA’s? I’ve spent a lot of time over [...]
Posted on 23. Jul, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet From “Shopper as Hunter Gatherer” in pre-history, to Holostores (holographic-enhanced environments) in the near future, the “History of Retail in 100 Objects” puts the “tale” into “retail” over the past 10,000 years. Inspired by the British Museum’s “History of the World in 100 Objects”, Editor David Roth* curated the list and associated book, website [...]
Posted on 06. Aug, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet In the midst of a ‘soft’ retail environment, one store is persuading customers to queue for up to 20 minutes and pay a 220%+ premium for an item that (fundamentally) you could pick up in a supermarket. Madness or genius? I guess it depends which side of the retail counter you’re on. The Magnum [...]
Posted on 13. Aug, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Once upon a time…New York Times columnist Rob Walker set out to find out whether a story could add significance and value to a near-worthless object. I read about Walker’s study in a recent HBR Blog by Ty Montague and thought it was one of the most interesting retail experiments of all time. Here’s [...]
Posted on 19. Aug, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet So the purveyor of the electronic Kindle has purchased one of the most revered newspapers in the United States – the 135 year-old Washington Post. And the blogosphere is abuzz with what Amazon’s Jeff Bezos will do with such an institution. (Home ‘Kindle Printers’ anyone?) One thing’s for sure: it won’t be news as [...]
Posted on 27. Aug, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet In the midst of a dynamic retail landscape, it’s important to continually evolve your retail brand. “It’s constant reinvention, not just once, it’s constant”, as J. Crew’s Mickey Drexler told last year’s attendees on the Westfield World Retail Study Tour in New York. Part of the process of brand evolution is looking at your [...]
Posted on 10. Sep, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet In the religion that is Shopper Marketing, one of the central beliefs is the “Path to Purchase”. For many marketers, the 5 or 6 step Path to Purchase (P2P) is writ in stone like the 10 Commandments. But is it time for non-believers to smash the P2P and come up with a new model? [...]
Posted on 09. Sep, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet All you really need to know about the components of a compelling retail Customer Value Proposition (CVP) is contained in the headline above. So, if you are short on time, or have a short attention span, you are excused. Go forth and strategise. But for those who choose to stick around, let me explain [...]
Posted on 17. Sep, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Fascinating fact: the word “brand” comes from the ancient Norse word “brandr” meaning “to burn”. One of the earliest uses of brands was to identify the ownership of cattle, searing a distinctive mark into the flesh of an animal. Translated into the language of contemporary marketing, a great brand makes a burning impression in [...]
Posted on 16. Sep, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet You have a smartphone and precisely 6 seconds to communicate a meaningful message about your brand. Mission impossible? Well, US home improvement giant Lowes took the challenge, and created a series of oddly mesmerizing and engaging 6-second stop-motion videos with DIY tips for customers. Called “Fix In Six”, the initiative is billed as “a [...]
Posted on 24. Sep, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”. That quote is from L.P. Hartley, and never a truer word was written when applied to the world of brands. Keith Newton, one of Australia’s leading authorities on brands, has just released a report comparing the leading brands of 20 years ago versus [...]
Posted on 01. Oct, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet There’s a tug of war going on in retail between “art” and “science” and science is starting to win. The traditional intuitive skill of the merchant is being matched by the research-based deftness of the data jockey. As one marker, Harvard Business Review headlined an article last October, “Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of [...]
Posted on 09. Oct, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet “We exist to feed each and every person who walks through our doors with dignity regardless of their means”. Now that’s a statement of purpose that staff-members could really get behind, in contrast to the marshmallow mission statements of many companies. In many ways, it’s an anarchic, anti-retail idea. (Serve people “regardless of their [...]
Posted on 15. Oct, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet One of the more interesting paths to purchase is the journey from airport check-in to boarding an international flight – what I’m calling the Path 2 Plane. And one of the more amazing Path 2 Plane experiences is the $2 billion renovation of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. On a recent [...]
Posted on 22. Oct, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Can anyone be worth $28m in a single year? Burberry obviously thought that its CEO Angela Ahrendts was deserving of the package for her work in FY 2012, a year which saw Burberry achieve $3.3 billion in sales and $717 million in profit. The brand’s share price has trebled since Ahrendts joined Burberry in [...]
Posted on 29. Oct, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Imagine being first to utilise a brand new technology that allows customers to interact with your store directly, order what they need, and have the product home delivered even before they click off. US drugstore Walgreens achieved that utopian goal…over a century ago. What was the “new” technology? The telephone. How did Walgreens do [...]
Posted on 31. Oct, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet While Target in the US gears up for its “most digitally enabled (holiday) campaign in history”, many Australian merchants are saying “bah hashtag” and playing down the importance of online. According to the just-released Deloitte Christmas Retailers’ Survey, over half of retailers researched expect online sales this festive season to be 2% or less [...]
Posted on 12. Nov, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet In the hands of shoppers, the smartphone is fast becoming a remote control for bricks and mortar retail. It allows customers to interact with a retail environment on their terms, in a more relevant and personal way than ever before. And customers (if they are not already) will start to favour retailers (and manufacturers) [...]
Posted on 19. Nov, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet I’ve spent my last week with a Retail Futurist, a Retail Historian, and a Retail Anthropologist; listening, learning and debating about where retail is going, where it’s been and how we need to relate to different generations of customers now and tomorrow. The occasion was the annual Westfield Breakfast Seminar Series across Australia and [...]
Posted on 26. Nov, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet Round about the time of the Global Financial Crisis, “stores ran out of ideas just as consumers ran out of money”, according to David Roth from WPP The Store in London. The effect? Growth came to a grinding halt. Roth was speaking at the final Westfield Breakfast Seminar in Auckland this week (sponsored by [...]
Posted on 10. Dec, 2013 by ideaworks.
Tweet “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” So wrote Bill Gates in his 1996 book “The Road Ahead”. Looking back over the last (almost) six years of columns that I [...]
Posted on 07. Jan, 2014 by ideaworks.
Tweet “My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare, I had to cram so many things, to store everything in there.” The lyrics in David Bowie’s song “Five Years” capture what life is like for many consumers in the fading light of the year 2013. This is the age of overload [...]
Posted on 28. Jan, 2014 by ideaworks.
Tweet “Great technology…allows the mechanical parts of what we do everyday to disappear.” So said Jack Dorsey, Chairman of Twitter and CEO of Square at the National Retail Federation annual conference in New York last week. What they call the “NRF Big Show” really is big – 30,000 delegates, and a multitude of speakers including [...]
Posted on 04. Feb, 2014 by ideaworks.
Tweet One of the highlights of yesterday’s Super Bowl was off the field – the advertisers who paid an average of US$4 million for a 30 second spot to showcase their messages in front of over 100 million US viewers. And out of all the ads, two that stood out were for retailers. As part [...]
Posted on 24. Feb, 2014 by ideaworks.
Tweet “We’ll all be rooned”, said Hanrahan, “Before the year is out.” That line is from a famous 1921 Australian bush poem. Hanrahan’s view was that ruin was a certainty, no matter the conditions. No rain meant drought; too much rain signaled either flood, or worse – grass growth and bushfire. Fast-forward to 2014, and [...]
Posted on 22. Apr, 2014 by ideaworks.
Tweet For over eight decades at the corner of 82nd and Lexington on the Upper East Side of New York City stood a local institution by the name of Lascoff Drugs. The founder, J.L. Lascoff, a Russian-Polish immigrant to the US, opened the very first pharmacy in New York State in 1899. J.L’s son Frederick [...]
Posted on 28. Apr, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet Ever since Piggly Wiggly (true name) launched the world’s first “self-service grocery store” in Memphis in 1916, the game for supermarkets has been about increasing speed and efficiency. The hermetically sealed outcome, however, has been that a trip to the supermarket for many shoppers is not a want-to, but a have-to…not something to look [...]
Posted on 07. May, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet The golden era for brand marketers was the time of “Mad Men” ‑ when a snappy slogan or a cute commercial helped to differentiate brands, and build an emotional bond between consumers and their Lucky Strike cigarettes, Chevrolet cars, Hershey chocolate or Playtex bras. As the last season of “Mad Men” floats into the [...]
Posted on 13. May, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet This is the story of Kevin Plank: who went from a dusty basement in Washington D.C. to Broadway in 18 years. It’s the tale of the then 23-year-old who started a business in his grandmother’s row house and finished up with a “Brand House” in New York City. It’s the fable of Under Armour, [...]
Posted on 22. May, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet FMOT, SMOT, ZMOT…WTF? The first three acronyms are from the lexicon of “shopper marketing,” the last one a humble retailer’s exasperated “what the?” response. What does it all mean? And to use another truncation, is shopper marketing just so much BS from a bunch of (likely) MBA’s? I’ve been asked that question many times [...]
Posted on 27. May, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet Five skywriting planes etched the phrase “Existence or Nonexistence” into the vivid blue skies above Brooklyn last Sunday. What did it all mean? While deep thinkers may get all existential about the mantra, it was actually an art project riffing on the CIA’s statement that it neither confirms nor denies “the existence or nonexistence” [...]
Posted on 02. Jun, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet One of the best shopping experiences in the world right now is anything but fancy. In fact, it is about as stripped down as retail can get – concrete floors, product on palettes, warehouse ceilings with struts and skylights. Despite the unflattering surroundings, this particular chain also charges customers just to get in the [...]
Posted on 26. Jun, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet The Cannes Lions bills itself as the biggest creative communications festival in the world. Starting out as an advertising show 61 years ago, it now sprawls across numerous categories, awarding work in sectors as diverse as “Innovation” and “Promo & Activation.” Two other festivals have used the same exotic locale over the years. The [...]
Posted on 30. Jun, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet “Clean underwear on demand.” That’s the pitch for FlyCleaners, a New York-based laundry and dry cleaning start-up, currently prowling the streets of Brooklyn with more locations coming soon. Powered by a smartphone app, you simply click, and a few minutes later a “FlyGuy” materializes in a blue FlyCleaners truck and whisks away your unmentionables. [...]
Posted on 08. Jul, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet Is there anything truly original in this world? The TED Radio Hour podcast on America’s NPR asked that question recently and answered with a definitive “No.” “As far as we know, the Big Bang is original,” observed TED speaker Kirby Ferguson. “And everything else is derivative,” chipped in host Guy Raz, completing the thought. [...]
Posted on 18. Jul, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet Many a giant creature has loomed over the streets of Manhattan, at least in celluloid form – most famously King Kong and Godzilla. And now a more benign (but equally huge) being has followed in their footsteps – a six-story metallic yellow balloon dog, which has suddenly appeared on a building on Fifth Avenue. [...]
Posted on 23. Jul, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet One evening last week, a possible vision of the future of urban transportation pulled up outside a bar in the Mission District of San Francisco. I summoned it in less than a minute, using an app on my smartphone. By the time I had got up from my stool and walked outside, my ride [...]
Posted on 31. Jul, 2014 by Jon Bird.
Tweet Put your ear to the ground and you can hear the future. That’s because the advance party has already arrived – we are living in an early beta version of what’s to come. But the rumblings you sense now are nothing compared to the earthquake on its way. Steve Brown, Chief Evangelist and Futurist [...]