By Michelle Finizio
It’s no surprise to anyone tuned into the current retail environment that A/B testing and having direct-to-consumer strategies and clear online purchase funnels are a regular reality of any up-and-coming brand’s retail playbook. And if you’ve really been paying attention, you know that pop-up and in-person brand experiences have become the trendy yet powerful tools for creating personal connections and increased brand loyalty among delighted customers. The two trillion dollar consumer goods retail market isn’t going away.
The questions in this new retail environment become how to ensure you’re adding value to your customers’ lives, and what are the new rules of retail guiding the most innovative consumer brands towards the future.
This summer, FounderMade, organizers of bi-coastal consumer brand trade shows, in partnership with First Bev, a private equity firm investing in innovative, emerging beverage brands, hosted a panel at Showfields to uncover secrets from some of retail’s most successful names. Panelists Mark Lynn, founder and CEO of AMASS Nomadic Distillery, Katie Hunt, co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Showfields, Ankit Patel, Director of Merchandising at Boxed and Alex Duong, Chief Merchant at The Goods Mart helped attendees understand how their brands are redefining the retail space by sharing their perspectives on the consumer retail industry and their individual brands’ contribution to it.
3 key takeaways on the future of retail
1. The future of commerce is not e-commerce or in-store separately, its c-commerce
Co-founder of Showfields, Katie Hunt, believes that the concept of consumer-based commerce will drive the future of retail. It’s no longer about being an e-commerce vs. in-store company, it’s about breaking the mold of what physical retail looks like.
The market is strong for retailers to have a physical presence, but retailers and brands need to recognize how to make the experience curated and accessible to consumers. Alex Duong of The Goods Mart agreed, commenting on how the food retail environment is ever-evolving. The best retailers, according to Duong, work with a curated assortment of novelty products in-store, while also providing everything a consumer might need. In the world of technology and many options, it’s sometimes better to have fewer, more curated options. According to Duong, the future of retail is not about having a physical location where you can have everything, it’s about having a physical location where products were picked just for you, and they’re going to be perfect in your home and in your life.
“My Instagram feed became more interesting than going into a department store. And I wanted to touch and feel those products in person. That’s how we curated Showfields. We source everything by network and highlight products that we see in our feeds that we want to touch, feel and discover.” — Katie Hunt, co-founder, Showfields
2. Know who your customer is, and market to them
You’ve heard it a million times before: When you bring your brand out into the world, it’s really important to know who your customer is and who values your service.
“We’ve been coined the ‘Costco for Millennials’ but at the end of the day, Millennials aren’t the shoppers who build carts & purchase large quantities of items.” — Ankit Patel, Director of Merchandising, Boxed
Boxed, the online bulk retailer, for example, originally launched as an app with the belief that the consumer market was trending toward mobile purchases. But what they quickly learned was that in-app purchases only came from their most loyal customers and that in order to capitalize on consumers’ shopping habits, they needed to evolve and edit their business to reflect the needs of their target market — people who were transacting on their site via desktop & mobile
3. If you’re truly innovative, the market is just about to catch up to you
In the world of startups and emerging brands, you don’t necessarily have the benefit of time. The challenge increasingly becomes going fast enough, while allowing enough time to collect meaningful data and A/B test your product.
Add to this the fact that there are disruptors who are constantly changing and evolving the industry. As Mark Lynn of AMASS Distillery cleverly pointed out, consumers never demanded one-hour alcohol delivery services like Drizly & Minibar, but the market gave it to them and consumers, as a result, have increasingly come to expect services they didn’t realize they needed.
Ultimately, a brand’s success becomes about what’s in its DNA. The brands that are winning today are able to move fast, experiment quickly and take risks. They understand that the ability to fail does not mean accepting failure.