We were sad to hear earlier this month that British retailer Mothercare had collapsed into administration. With plans to close all 79 of its UK stores and putting 2500 jobs at risk, it’s the latest in a long line of High Street chains to shut due to sliding sales.
Mothercare – as well as a whole swathe of other fashion retailers – faced stiff competition from online giants who were cheaper and more accessible. Shopping patterns have dramatically transformed, and retailers are being challenged to either rapidly adapt or fade away and die.
But is it all doom and gloom? Not at all. If anything, the opportunities are greater and more varied than ever before.
Take JD Sports as one example. At a time that newspapers are decrying the state of the UK High Street, this fashion sports retailer has changed its DNA to encapsulate “retail theatre” and “creative marketing campaigns” to become one of the strongest performers on the British High Street.
Also doing it well is Lush. A brand always ahead of the trend, their most recent #LushLens concept explores digital packaging. Customers can scan their phone to retrieve information on price, ingredients, how to use the products, and more. Lush has also developed the “Fairer Tablet”– due to launch in 2020 – a strategy which aims to incorporate digital and retail by providing ethical technology and a bespoke customer experience.
Other major players responding to the changes include Boots. Soon to unveil new store concepts with consultation spaces, improved waiting areas, a Fitbit studio and a hair colour salon, the national retailer has targeted the wellness market after a year of disappointing sales.
Even Harrods is upping the ante. Launching standalone beauty stores dubbed ‘H Beauty’ to bring the Harrods experience to other areas in the UK, it will be interesting to see how these flourish under the department store’s umbrella.
And just this week we heard that one of our major concessions hosts, John Lewis, is launching an experimental concept shop in Southampton featuring a team of experts in cookery, gardening, beauty, fashion and gadgets.
Smaller fashion brands are also changing the way they approach retail. Take New York City fashion designer Emily Bode who is pioneering the idea of a private selling space. She says, “We’ve been selling out of the studio for the past three years, and people like to come in and sit down and have a beer or a Coca-Cola….when people come into the studio, we want them to feel a genuine comfort, this feeling that is so close to home.”
Emily Bode has essentially taken her design studio, and changed it into a shop. Why not? She adds, “It was under six figures for the entire build-out. We’re totally self-funded. We’re used to being that smaller, scrappier business. It would feel bizarre to do this any other way.”
We are in the midst of a retail revolution and for fashion brands wishing to compete, it’s about creating great designs, at a great price, and selling them within a retail store that offers a great experience.
In short, an ‘experiential destination’.
And don’t forget that if you own a fashion label, we have a whole portfolio of fashion software solutions to power your brand ahead – stock control, concessions, mobile order taker, warehouse scanning, and much, much more including our new B2B wholesale webstore.