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The Future of Retail and the Biggest Trend to Look Out for in 2020.

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

High Street: Is a Revival on the Horizon?

2019 was the worst year on record for retail and even well-established brands struggled to bring in shoppers. There is only one way forward - putting the customer at the centre.

The high street needs to fight back with new experiences and more exciting products. Customers don’t need as many physical stores, so it’s key to make the ones we do have count. Brands that have customer experience at the forefront will do best.

"Retail is not just about product any more. You have to have a presence; a sense of theatre,”

Says Reiss Founder David Reiss. Brands need to offer customers theatre, art and innovative technology as well as excellent products and customer service. Building brand loyalty can be much more difficult nowadays, in most cases, there will be many other brands that have a product or service similar to your own.

Retail Isn't Dead, It's Changing.

As long as companies don't panic and develop their marketing strategies in line with what consumers want, retail is not dead. People can get everything at the click of the button but they still like to shop and visit stores, they just need a better excuse.

I think that companies who give customers other reasons - besides their products - to visit them will come out on top.

Here of two of my favourite success stories of companies doing just this:

1. When relaunched their Soho store, and made digital technology integral to the customer experience. QR codes were assigned to each product in-store, allowing customers to easily find (and buy) what they see online. They also offered in-store workshops to showcase new trends and offer customers personal style advice. (2019)

2. When Allbirds took a stand against Black Friday by emptying its London flagship to raise awareness around “conscious consumerism”. When most other stores bombarded customers with sale offers, Allbirds removed all products from their shelves to make way for their creative workshops. (2019)

Retail sales will continue to struggle in the current economic climate, but if brands offer customers more reasons to go than just their product, whether that is innovative technology, a mind-blowing customer experience or a unique stance on current issues, they will be successful.

2020: A Defining Year

Retail is already changing and has been doing so for a number of years. In 2020, we will see it evolve further.

Millennials are the biggest customer group and they are extremely time-pressed. Quality experiences and leisure time is important. This will change the shape of the high street as more spas and exercise classes like Frame and Barrecore launch new stores. Sales of athleisure and trainers will continue to rise as a result.

Many brands have nailed multichannel but haven’t yet got fully developed or integrated omni-channel digital strategies.

What Fashion Trends Will Shape 2020?

To be honest, I can't predict whether shoulder pads or leg warmers will make a comeback. Or if the start to the new decade will inspire a flurry of feathers and flapper dresses.

But I do think that the circular economy and sustainability is becoming more and more ‘fashionable’.

Greater focus on making sure that fashion doesn’t kill the earth is increasingly important to both consumer and brand. That being said, I do think that brands have the most impact and they need to create products that customers will buy regardless of its impact on environment, but have environment at heart.

(That being said, I also wouldn't mind tonal dressing and white boots to be in fashion this Spring!)

Sustainability Taken Seriously.

Sustainability is becoming a permanent brand ingredient for more and more companies and in 2020,we will see huge global companies with the power to make a difference continue to adapt their business model in line with the climate crisis.

Both consumer and brand will make more conscious decisions that work for them AND the Earth and make sustainability and everlasting 'trend'.

What Challenges Will Leaders Face in 2020?

The list is long, leaders in Fashion, Beauty, Luxury and Lifestyle will have a lot on their plates this year. He's a list of some of the challenges they are likely to face:

1. Change to requirements of roles in C-Suite.

2. Working across generations.

3. Gender imbalance.

4. Managing technology.

5. Hiring talent.

Change to requirements of roles in C-Suite

There is a rapidly expanding responsibility for leaders as C-Suite roles are taking on more and more. For example Chief Marketing Officers need to be not just creative but KPI and ROI driven. They need to blend commercial with creative in their forward thinking.

Working across generations

More and more Millennials are stepping into senior management roles and leaders will have to figure out how best to work across different generations with very different knowledge bases and experiences.

Gender imbalance

There is ongoing issue surrounding gender imbalance and many women with potential do not reach it. When I became a mother, I realised that motherhood changes people's assumptions of your career aspirations. In my view, this is why we have few women in leadership positions. Women fall out of the job market when they have children, not because they want to, but because they have no choice. Flexible working and the ability to manage and build your family alongside you career need to improve. This is key to creating better female leaders who also want to have children without putting a massive strain on their physical and mental health.

Managing technology

Managing technology and the pace at which it is evolving is a challenge all leaders will face in 2020. In Fashion, Luxury, beauty and Lifestyle there are brands using AR and AI in innovative and creative ways to sell their products. And what works for some companies won't necessarily work for you. It will take a lot of thought and energy to realise what works for your business and adapt that as technology evolves.

Hiring talent

The fight for talent has never been fiercer. And knowing who the right talent to hire is is even trickier in these uncertain times. Find out more on how to hire great leaders when uncertainty is the new certainty in Episode 2 of our Hiring Series!

The Beauty and Skincare Industry Changed Has Changed a LOT. What will take Centre Stage in 2020?

There will be an increased focus on health. Brands are beginning to care not just for the external but the internal as well. The brands customers will support in 2020 are those championing health and well-being through their beauty or skincare remedies. People are becoming more aware of what goes into the products they buy and sales of natural beauty and skincare products will continue to rise.

I also think that fun products that are about novelty and not taking yourself too seriously will do well. This is likely why Kylie Cosmetics and HudaBeauty are so popular. They're made by women for women and are about experimenting and having fun

What Needs to Change in 2020?

Diversity is still a key talking point and criticism surrounding the Fashion and Beauty industries.

Leadership need to recognise that inclusivity and diversity needs to be part of the business internally as well as externally. If diversity is a part of a brands identity, this must include the customer and the internal values in the business.

Products need to have a story, they need to stand for something and have meaning, this is what makes customers - especially Gen Z - connect with the brand and buy their products.

Marketing needs to be savvy how to use new tech and social media to talk to their audience and where to spend the money talking to them / investing in the right tech.


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