Let us try to plan for 2020 and beyond. In which direction has the point of sale evolved?
ROXANE BACHÉ: I see six main roads emerging for tomorrow. In a transversal way, the “phygital” is becoming widespread in all sectors. Service is becoming increasingly sophisticated as a central part of retail and business strategies. Secondly, ethics takes a prominent place. We see that consumers are more and more willing to pay more to consume branded products that reflect their values. Social networks continue to emerge as essential vectors of brand strategy, particularly in terms of communication. Emotion is a pillar of the customer experience; the customer journey becomes the opportunity to experience playful, pleasant moments, in order to go beyond the purely transactional aspect of coming to the store. This is particularly important, especially at a time when e-commerce is coming to question the ways of selling and trading. And finally, personalization by data definitively, which takes us from a world of hyper-personalization to an era of exclusivity.
What are the consequences of these changes on payment methods?
R. B. : Today we hear a lot about “M-service“, or mobile self-service. There is a new wave of concepts that play on consumer trust and autonomy. The latter can enter a store, order the products of his choice, pay in a dematerialized way, all without the presence of human staff. This is the case, for example, in the small space called The Drug Store, opened by the healthy juice brand Dirty Lemon in the heart of Manhattan. The customer only has to enter, help himself in one of the refrigerators, send a text message for his choice of drink and pay digitally. There is no cash register, no salesman. This system is 100% based on trust between the brand and its customer.
Dirty Lemon’s immersive Manhattan Drug Store takes authenticity and transparency to a whole new level. Will this disruptor brand redefine what consumer brand relationships will be like in the future of the retail experience?
The way had indeed been opened by Amazon Go and its stores without going to the checkout….
R. B. : This kind of experience is likely to develop in the future. One of the advantages is that the business can be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And this no longer only concerns the food store. For example, we see beauty concept stores that follow the same path. This is the case in Seoul where the Espoir brand opened a self-picking store concept called the’Make Up Market’. There are fresh produce counters, spaces to test products or a flea market space dedicated to second-hand products. This concept works exactly like Amazon Go, with a detection system (located on the ceiling and at the bottom of the shelves) that identifies the products chosen by customers.
In a few years, automation will have eliminated “traditional” trade?
R. B.: No! Darwinism does not exist in retail. New concepts do not replace old ones. Ideas tend to multiply to meet the very broad needs of a target population. The physical store and human staff are irreplaceable. The dimensions of personal advice and contact are fundamental – and machines cannot offer it today.
We are increasingly talking about predictive algorithms. How do they fit into the customer journey in the retail context?
R. B. : What is really new is that some brands use customers’ digital data to offer them tailor-made products (clothing) or services (sports coach, health monitoring), i.e. 100% adapted to their morphology or expectations.
The example that has struck me most recently is Nike, which opened the Nike by Melrose concept store in Los Angeles. The brand uses the personal data of members of its Nike+ digital community, who live in the Melrose area. The objective? Offering them the products best suited to their daily habits, while targeting an ultra-local community, this logic of exclusivity and ultra-locality is really new and will be developed in the future.
In parallel with the introduction of technologies at the point of sale, there is also a very strong demand for authenticity and ethics on the part of consumers. How are these two movements articulated?
R. B. : Yes, I observe that a new wave of pure-players has particularly well understood and integrated this consumer mistrust of brands and multinationals. In reaction, young labels such as Everlane (USA), The Road (Australia) or Beauty Pie are playing the radical transparency card. These actors take the idea of transparency about the origin of products a step further. In particular, by providing details of each step in the value chain, to justify the final selling price. The speech being: “if you pay this t-shirt $15, know that so much goes to the sourcing of the material, both to the assembly of parts and labor, quality control, packaging, customs etc.”. The success of these brands is phenomenal because the approach behind them has a really strong echo.
Another enlightening trend for tomorrow: the second-hand market is booming, growing 24 times faster than traditional retail, partly because of the desire to save money and limit consumption to protect the environment. This circular consumption is growing significantly. Pure-players clothing stores are finding growth drivers by opening physical spaces, such as DePop, a second-hand clothing brand that has opened stores in London, New York and Los Angeles. Each item offered for sale mentions the name of the seller. And the brand provides a photo studio so that sellers can photograph the clothes they want to resell. A qualified team is even mandated to guide these users so that they can optimize their profile.
Will the impact of social networks on new forms of commerce be confirmed in the coming years?
R. B. : Today, everything is shared, everything is exposed, everything is sublimated on social networks. Tomorrow, this trend will continue. The fact of offering points of sale with a sophisticated design will be essential. Why? Why? Because it encourages consumers to capture the space in images, or to take themselves in selfie and share this content. With this “user-generated-content”, the communication work is done by the consumer for the benefit of the brand. There are many examples, but I particularly remember the cosmetics brand Glossier, which has particularly worked on its concept stores. Or the latest Kellogg’s concept, which encouraged people passing through to photograph themselves with their bowl of cereal. Finally, the latest concept of Tiffany’s in London, which has been redesigned as a blue monochrome, the brand’s iconic colour.
Finally, I observe a last trend that I call social-liking. What is it about? The recent phenomenon that leads technology giants to open physical corners that show their users’ preferences for certain products. These preferences have been expressed on these social networks via the number of likes, or via product ratings. The top-rated products are therefore promoted in sales areas open to the general public in order to reach consumers in real life. This is the case, for example, of the Amazon 4-star concept in New York. It includes all articles that have received a rating of 4 stars or higher on the platform. This example shows that the platform is committed to showing quality guarantees for the products it sells. View image on Twitter