Exciting digital & innovative trends happening in the retail industry

Amongst the perceived doom and gloom facing the retail industry both locally and globally, I’ve noticed some gem ideas and innovations from retailers that show that even in tough times you can still be creative, cut through the clutter and create exciting campaigns that get you noticed.

Retail isn’t dead, it’s alive with possibility.

Let’s start with the Pop Up Shop. Not a new idea per se, but certainly a clever way of reaching new customers in new areas, staying fresh and current, and saving on those high operational costs of setting up a permanent store. Empty lots and shops, unused warehouses and abandoned properties are regularly converted into gorgeous, quirky and creative pop up shops, boutique stores and coffee shops for a short period of time. There is something charming and enticing about a pop up shop and I believe they are a delightful way of taking unused space and using it to your retail advantage. You don’t have to worry about long term set up costs, rent and facilities and all the admin associated therein. The pop up shop means quick burst set up, immediate buzz created, and small stock counts mean you sell fast and you can leave just as quickly as you arrived.

Ordering retail on your mobile phone or tablet? Yes, not altogether new, but every week I see another app developed or hear of another awesome site that offers delivery door-to-door from your favourite local restaurant, or international retail store. Menu Log is a very popular Australian restaurant app where you can order just about any food from your favourite local and have it delivered at no charge through this nifty service. No more waiting for cold pizza to be delivered, rather a delicious Hokkein noodle dish could be yours in the comfort of your own home. Restaurants don’t have to cater for delivery staff and other set up costs, but can optimise their customer option by linking up with any of these sites to offer a premium product delivered to your door.

So too are the developments in ecommerce and online shopping with all the big retailers globally developing amazing online sites that literally call to women to spend, spend, spend. So well designed and delivered for a great user experience no matter what medium — PC, tablets or iPhones — the vast developments in this space have allowed retailers to prosper and reach their customers in their own home. Who doesn’t love ordering great brands online from the UK off their mobile phone and a few days later having them arrive your doorstep? Nice, easy, effective and a great way to combat the decrease of “feet in store”.

The food van, taco truck vibe (currently huge in the US)… I don’t know how many of you have come across the Taco Truck or Gumbo Kitchen (in Melbourne) on Facebook or Twitter, but they are two of my favourites. I highly recommend you look them up! Think kebabs, think delicious Mexican, think fusion cooking and burgers, think variety and think local. These food vans use social media to announce where they will be each day for lunch and dinner, what time and where exactly to find them and customers simply pitch up at said location to find a queue of locals devouring their local flavours. Eating from the back of a truck has never been so cool! Melbourne definitely leads the way here, but I have heard whispers of some in Sydney? I think this is a really clever way of staying creative, staying top of mind and reaching an ever-increasing audience while keeping your costs way down. And marketing budgets are zero — just the use of social media alone has resulted in queues down the block.

The Virtual Shop is another one. Think futuristic shopping at it’s best with no staff, no bricks and mortar, just QR Codes and a really cool interface on which to shop. You’ll find this touch screen technology popping up in the craziest of places. Woolworths had virtual stores in Melbourne’s Flinders Street and Sydney’s Town Hall railway stations and they were some of the first to be noted. I’ve also seen some developments used by Sportsgirl in their window displays. This is new and changing, but watch this space.

I have only listed a few “trends” here, but I think these small examples really show that even in tough times when pockets are tight and budgets are cut, you can still be creative and reach your audience. You can still be that step ahead.

If you have any other great examples from around the world you’ve seen, I would love to hear about them.


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