MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Anne Mezzenga and Chris Walton follow trends in retail through their podcast, Omnitalk, a leader in that segment. While Wes Allen, owner of Sunlight Sports in Cody, Wyoming, follows the retail experience from the ground floor
The three of them told attendees at the Sea Otter Classic Summit that the world of retail is changing rapidly — driven in large part by the web — and small retailers, especially, need to pay attention to changes in how goods are sold and delivered.
“What we see is an omnichannel ability to meet customers where they want and at the time they want,” Allen said. While some may want to walk into a brick-and-mortar outlet, or pick up a purchase curbside, or have it delivered the next day, “there is a time and place for every channel,” said Allen, former president of the Outdoor Alliance.
More importantly, Allen said, small retailers, like Sunlight Sports, can be a third-party “validator” for brands and helps provide a valuable experience for the brand and consumer.
While Allen offered a retail perspective to consumer changes that are upending retail, Mezzenga and Walton offered five new trends that are fast emerging in the marketplace.
Keep an eye on Amazon Style. The web retailer will launch a 30,000 square foot retail store in Southern California near the Glendale Galleria that displays a host of apparel brands that shoppers can see and touch. However, a customer would scan a QR code and enter a dressing room to use a high-tech fitting program and have the product delivered to the room. The customer can buy it and pick it up right away or have it delivered. From a retail perspective, the technology helps control inventory, minimizes staffing and allows the customer to digitally try on a variety of garments in a private fitting room.
The supermarket chain, Albertson’s, is now using a software program called Firework to create livestreaming “shoppable videos.” Firework sends short video content to consumers of new food trends and cooking products. More importantly, the system offers short video cooking shows. Consumers can watch a video, shop for ingredients and have them delivered. The live video helps maintain consumer engagement. Walton predicts this format will explode over the next two or three years.
Reselling used products will be a $50+ billion industry by 2025. And many major brands already sell used gear to consumers. Reselling used products brings budget-minded consumers into the market. And since brands have a connection with consumers, reselling their used products makes more sense than having consumers sell it on eBay or other channels. But more importantly for brands, the process improves sustainability and moves a brand away from a one-to-one selling process.
There has been some new growth in the “locker pickup” arena. It’s a version of curbside pickup but allows consumers to decide when to pick up their purchases. Best Buy, for example, is running a pilot program whereby a consumer can order a product and pick it up anytime from a secure locker outside the store. For small retailers investing in the equipment poses a challenge, but the system could be ideal for picking up gear or repairs. It helps control staffing and the time spent handling pickups.
It’s called “orchestration” software that companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash and others use to organize the pickup of goods. Think of it as “last-mile” delivery. The pandemic has spurred last-mile delivery as consumers, stuck at home, could order takeout and have it delivered immediately. For smaller retailers, working with key brands, using orchestration software allows them to become a de facto distribution center.