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Message from the CEO: 9 January 2017

January 09, 2017

Many of you may have been watching the media closely around the Christmas and New Year period especially in relation to what we can all expect within retail in 2017.

It has been reported that Australian retailers would rather forget 2016, with a “trolley full of famous names including Dick Smith, Pumpkin Patch and Masters going to the wall”. However, as most of you will be aware being seasoned retailers, this is not uncommon for this time of year. In our industry from time to time we see small, medium and large brands bowing out of the market depending on the economic climate and how well the category of retail is performing.

The good news for retail is that it still represents a strong and viable market globally and whilst we have seen the influx of international retailers enter the Australian market, it seems really to have changed little for many of our more seasoned brands that have been within Australia for some time.

Ultimately our industry is known for being innovative, determined and adaptive amongst other things, and whilst we understand that international players would like to descend on the Australian market, what we are sure about is that Australia offers quite a unique consumer experience. Our industry will continue to evolve in new and innovative ways which is likely to see them benefit from new competition in the sense that we all have been forced for some time to think outside the box.

If we look at the statistical data that has been produced by the Commonwealth Bank, we are set to see good things in 2017 with commodity prices predicted to lift over the coming year, especially with sharp increases in the mining sector. This means that in terms of infrastructure, jobs and growth people are likely to have more money within their pockets and will be indulging in discretionary spending.

At the end of last year, we saw retail trade rise by 3.5% in the year to October, close to the average rate over the past seven years. This means that retail is certainly not going backwards and in fact is headed in the right direction. Consumer confidence and business confidence and conditions continue to hold long term averages.

Overall what this means for retail, is that never in the past have we been afraid of some new competition and never have we shied away from a new challenge or from new competitors.

As your member organisation, we will of course continue to keep a watchful eye on new players within the market and any shifts which occur in the economy which may in turn affect your businesses. However, rest assured despite the media’s take on what 2017 will hold, after speaking to many of our members, we seem to have had a positive start and are anticipating that it will continue throughout the year.

As you are well aware, retail is a customer-centric industry and the retailers that we see perform particularly well are the ones who focus on their consumer and the intention of their consumer. If you are at a loss as to where to invest your energy in 2017, a great place to start is to focus on giving people reasons to enter your stores with these top tips:

  • Invest time into your frontline sales team – examine how you sell your products, how you train your staff and if staff issues are affecting sales;
  • Great products solve problems – Focus on solving consumer issues and motivate your customers to take action;
  • Embrace local – Depending on where you are based within Australia, be locally relevant and engaged with your community;
  • Provide an experience not just a sale – Revisit your visual merchandising training and embrace the brave new world of shopper entertainment, omni-channel and experiential strategies;
  • Forge meaningful connections – Regardless of whether you are a bricks-and-mortar store or multichannel retailer, you need to connect with your customers online, offline and in the mobile universe; and
  • Never stop learning – there are many new and inventive ideas or products which you can use to attract consumers into your store;
  • Encourage advocacy – deliver great products and service, tell a visual story, create memorable experiences, and facilitate review/feedback processes to help brand fans spread the word for you.

If you would like any assistance in starting your new year on the right foot, give us a call on 1800 RETAIL (1800 738 245).

Have a great week,

Dominique Lamb

NRA Media

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