Showrooming retail store, shopper marketing

NRF: The 3 New Rules of Retail Merchandising

In a panel discussion at Retail’s BIG Show, LVMH North America’s Gena Smith, Nordstroms Rack’s Paige Thomas sat down with HSN’s Sandy Soto speaking about the increase of challenges retailers face in bringing newness and inspiration to the shopping experience. These challenges have put new pressures on the retail merchandising department, where concerns lied mostly with product selection and visual presentation. Today, the top merchandising position has broader accountability and is heavily involved with talent development, change management and customer experience.

Here are 3 new rules of retail merchandising discussed by the panel and written up by NRF.com:

LETTING CUSTOMERS SHOP ON THEIR OWN TERMS

ENCOURAGING DIGITAL DISCOVERY, IN-STORE AND ONLINEWe’ve seen that customers want to shop on their own terms nowadays, and as a retailer or brand you need to respect that,” PSFK Labs’ Scott Lachut said. That’s the thinking behind a push to bring shopping cart functionality to every online experience, from “buy” buttons on Twitter,image recognition features within apps andstreamlined purchasing from social mediaand mobile. The option to reserve products online for in-store or curbside pickup helps stores like Gap and Walmart give customers more control over delivery, too.NRF_merchandising_twitter

Smart multichannel retailers not only encourage customers to look up product information on mobile devices, but find thoughtful ways to bring digital features to the retail environment, adding a useful layer of information over the “real world” shopping experience. House of Fraser is testing beacons inside mannequins that let shoppers access information and special offers for the products on display. ModiFace’s appgenerates personalized skincare recommendations by analyzing hundreds of photos from a shopper’s linked Facebook account. And Neiman Marcus’ memory mirror helps “shoppers short-circuit the process of trying on, and re-trying on, clothes.”

ENCOURAGING DIGITAL DISCOVERY, IN-STORE AND ONLINE

Smart multichannel retailers not only encourage customers to look up product information on mobile devices, but findNRF_modiface_in-store_experience_merchandising_multichannel thoughtful ways to bring digital features to the retail environment, adding a useful layer of information over the “real world” shopping experience. House of Fraser is testing beacons inside mannequins that let shoppers access information and special offers for the products on display. ModiFace’s app generates personalized skincare recommendations by analyzing hundreds of photos from a shopper’s linked Facebook account. And Neiman Marcus’ memory mirror helps “shoppers short-circuit the process of trying on, and re-trying on, clothes.”

DESIGNING DESTINATIONS AND COMMUNITIES

What does the store do, beyond just selling things? PSFK Founder and President Piers Fawkes says the future belongs to retailers that transact in culture, experiences and relationships. Stores become hubs for communities of like-minded consumers, with services and experiences beyond products. Club Monaco’s Manhattan flagship store is home to a bookstore and coffee shop; Urban Outfitters’ Herald Square concept store offers salon services, bike repairs and Instagram photo Warby_parker_retail_merchandisingprinting. Warby Parker takes it a step further with a unique theme at each new location — retro classroom décor in Dallas, a photo studio in Chicago and a reading nook in San Francisco.

Thomas noted that forecasting data drives decisions at Nordstrom Rack, but every time the company spot-checks a forecast, they realize customers are evolving even faster than they thought. “Even when we’re being aggressive, it’s not fast enough.”  

To stay ahead of consumers, Smith says general merchandising managers and their teams need to understand and appreciate how quickly technology is changing and channels are converging. What’s more, Smith says, cultural sensitivity and an awareness of what’s going on around the world — not just in selected markets — is also critical in retail. It takes more than tech skills to bring “Future of Retail” ideas to life; merchandising teams must also have a deep understanding of how customers are living their lives.

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