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Message from the CEO: 31 October 2017

October 31, 2017

The SMH this week reported that consultancy firm McKinsey has forecast the volume of freight passing through Australian cities is projected to increase 40 per cent by 2050, driven in part by ecommerce. 

With the added weight of Urban Futurist Stephen Yarwood’s predictions online retail could fast-tract autonomous transport, it’s easy to feel a sense of foreboding – however his thoughts were that these and other changes to the nature of our industry.

Fulfilment and delivery is certainly already a crucial component of retailers’ overarching customer service strategy already, however with the imminent arrival of Amazon, things are going to ramp up, so we all need to be preparing that the expected two-day domestic delivery will soon become one (or faster – The Iconic certainly upped the ante for Sydney shoppers with its 3-4 hour turnaround for an additional fee).

We expect Stephen Yarwood’s predictions that “autonomous everything will define the urban fabric of the 21st century” might be on the money, given our growing predilection for speed and convenience, however he’s predicted this may lead to a revitalisation of the ‘main street’ local shopping, where people socialise and buy local produce.

These kinds of predications are not unique to Australian retailers – right across the globe, we’re seeing a trend away from traditional department stores, as the ‘new’ consumer shuns cramped offerings set-up for sales, with apartment-style boutiques and more authentic, homely offerings the next big thing for the shopping experience.

Luxury brands have been evolving for some time into warmer spaces, designed to build deeper connections with their customers. These ‘fashion houses’ really do feel like your cool friend’s apartment. But unlike your friend’s apartment, everything’s for sale!

These spaces have been designed to tap into this global momentum for an enriching experience (paired with speed and convenience) – so what better than a store deliberately designed not to look like a store, but a creative hub for like-minded people?

Australia retailers have really began to lift their experiential game (think West Elm in Melbourne, however IKEA has been selling this concept forever, with rooms created and realised as complete rooms, or in some cases, complete homes!) – the key to which is immersion, intimacy and a sense of the lifestyle a brand can offer.

This consumer partiality to experience and connection has made its way into all sales channels, with the ever-elusive brand loyalty now, more than ever, dependant on inspiration and emotional connection, and beautifully-curated offerings. There’s no pressure to buy, in a stunningly-curated, and welcoming environment (whether it’s in-store, pop-up, website or social purchasing channels).

There’s no doubt it’s a challenging time for retailers, however it’s also an incredibly exciting time, and we look forward to working alongside our membership to help evolve, innovate and create for the next generation of Australian consumers. 

Looking not quite as far into the future, the NRA has been out in force working with Queensland retailers ahead of its imminent ban on single-use plastic bags, that rolls out from July 1.

NRA Manager of Industry Policy, David Stout, has visited Cairns, Townsville, Bundaberg and Noosa thus far, conducting free workshops for retailers to outline how to minimise costs and disruption for their businesses and customers, outlining compliant alternatives and their associated costs, and the substantial fines and risk for non-compliance.

For more information on the NRA’s tour locations and times, business owners should visit qldbagban.com.au, email qldbagban@nra.net.au, or call the NRA’s hotline on 1800 RETAIL (1800 738 245) for free advice.

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