April 27, 2016

Innovation in Australian Retail

Innovation or the lack thereof…

As seen in an earlier article, From Bricks and Mortar to Bricks and Mortar, consumers went through a mass phase of wanting retail online and are now heading back to bricks-and-mortar. Enter the Phygital…a new wave of retail innovation. The question is, “Are Aussie Retailers true innovators and will they be able to keep up in the rapidly changing retail arena?” There are certain instances where Australian retailers have been innovative – for example Shoes of Prey, Vinomofo, and The Iconic – but on a whole, retailers seem to struggle in this arena. Let’s explore what makes retailers innovative…

The Innovators

What do Shoes of Prey, Vinomofo and The Iconic all have in common? Other than the fact that they are predominantly online retailers, they are creating trends and thinking outside the box rather than being a part of the status quo.

Shoes of Prey was the first retailer to do custom women’s shoes well. They use a 3D online design system which allows women to see every aspect of the shoe before creating them. They even offer a 365 day return and redesign policy. Their key to success is not only excellent operations and logistics, but also gathering data, listening and creating a flawless customer experience. They now have bricks-and-mortar shops which have rounded out the offering.

Vinomofo found its blue ocean in wine lovers who wanted to have fun drinking great wine without the “bowties and BS.” Their partnership with the Catch of The Day group was a huge stepping stone, giving them the buying power to succeed. Although an important part of that success, they focus on being true to themselves and their customers by being innovative, fun, and real MOFOS. They offer secret deals and have a 100% happiness guarantee. Where else can you find that in Australia?

Finally, the Iconic. The Iconic exploded onto the fashion scene in late 2011. They came in quick with a new e-commerce model not yet available in Australia – the latest fashion delivered in 3 hours. They have optimized their warehousing systems, inventory and delivery processes. They were even one of the first adopters of mobile friendly web-commerce. They are always in touch and listening to customers, providing the best content and service.

Why isn’t there more innovation?

Each of these companies have pushed the boundaries of what Australia thought was possible or even acceptable. Innovation doesn’t need to be delivery through drones or ordering a taxi with the click of one button. Innovation can be constant learning through listening, testing and analyzing data. Creating buzz through exceptional content or new product offerings or learning about your shoppers behavioural patterns in order to optimize your shop and offerings.

Australia is an island of its own both in a commercial and geographical sense. It has been behind the curve in many industries because local consumer demand and spending power has driven change. Profit now, rather than a longer term view has been the key to success in retail. Ideas from and based on local trends have been those executed rather than innovating and stepping into the world of the unknown.

Be a Retail Innovator

Overseas access to Australians, and Australian brands expanding overseas, are now beginning to change the landscape of Aussie retail. A majority of Australian retailers fear the e-commerce competition from that of Amazon and know it is time to react…to innovate perhaps.

Learn from the competition both locally and overseas. Listen to and understand your customers both in-store and online. The future of Australian retail is in your hands; hopefully you can find new ways of learning more about your customers, gathering data and truly creating experiences that your shoppers will fall in love with. Make every shopper count. Innovate.

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