How to stay relevant in Retail
I recently had the opportunity to connect with Francesca Danzi, the Chief Client Officer of Tory Burch, whom I met on a panel at the World Retail Congress.
Francesca has built her expertise in technology-enabled retail transformation through the years with the likes of Burberry, Bulgari, rag & bone, and Saint Laurent. She has achieved remarkable results in co-designing disruptive, multi-channel customer experiences like Runway to Reality, Burberry Bespoke, and Regent Street 121. A recognized mentor and advisor in the retail and fashion tech start-up space, Francesca is always testing out the next big idea.
As the retail industry continues to constantly change and evolve, I wanted to gather her perspectives on the current retail landscape, the convergence of online and offline retail experiences, the rise of new models, and what retailers and brands need to consider as they look toward a future of continued disruption driven by technology. Below is what we discussed.?
Greg Petro: As a seasoned retail professional with experience from so many top name brands, can you share what you are seeing in retail now?
Francesca Danzi: What I see right now is that the continuous shift towards digital is driving disruption and placing an emphasis on three topics:
- Right-sizing brick-and-mortar footprints
- Enhancing retail experiences both online and off-line
- Serving consumers through innovative distribution models and product innovation
Petro: With the retail industry constantly evolving, what retail trends are most important today? How significant are personalization and leveraging the voice of customer within retail?
Danzi: Enhancing retail experience is key and goes beyond adding omnichannel capabilities that boost convenience. We are witnessing the rise of experiential retail that is reshaping the store of the future. All brands are challenged with developing connected retail experiences that express the unique brand promise and become core to building consumer loyalty and advocacy.
We were pioneers at Burberry when we launched the Regent Street Flagship and then the Burberry Beauty Box in Covent Garden, with elements of convenience, community, curation and immersion. But today brands are going even further, engaging consumers on the basis of what they want to do, not necessarily what they want to buy. The rise of Community Retail, which was highlighted in Cognizant?s latest business report, ?seeks to turn physical stores into destinations for gatherings of loyal consumers who orient themselves to particular causes, affinities, interest groups or cultural distinctions. Apple, REI and adidas with its RunBase concept are perfect examples of this trend for the physical world, while Sephora Beauty Talk and My Starbucks illustrate the digital community.
Petro: I recently wrote an article about the bogus ?retail apocalypse? which in my opinion is really more of a retail renaissance. With The Commerce Department announcing that U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in June, with even stronger growth in July, what are your thoughts on retail in-store vs. online?
Danzi: Actually, what I see is the continuous integration and convergence of physical stores, e-commerce websites and digital content/marketing platforms. Relevancy and personalization are key. We are moving towards being ?one market serving markets of one? as described in the Bain report, The Future of Luxury.
Providing relevant content to enhance the retail experience is also paramount in-store. An interesting company to watch is Modist. I advised them in my London days and we recently reconnected at the NY Fashion Tech Lab. Modist enables fashion brands and retailers to present product, client information, digital marketing, editorial and social media content to influence in-person experience and consumers? decisions while they shop in-store. Modist has been integrated into Farfetch?s Store of the Future and is working on other interesting collaborations, leveraging content to stimulate customer engagement and develop emotional connections to drive sales.?
Petro: Artificial Intelligence is powerful and one of the most relevant trends in today?s retail industry. As retailers look for places to apply this technology, many companies are learning to leverage AI to improve customer service by anticipating behavior. What are your thoughts on the promising trend of AI?
Danzi: What particularly fascinates me is how AI and advanced analytics have become core operational competencies, making sense of what customers value, view, like, try and purchase or consume. It was interesting to hear Federico Marchetti, founder of what?s now YNAP, at the World Retail Congress, speaking about the death of the homepage, as now every customer sees a different, personalized web landing page at Yoox. I also recently attended an event organized by LivePerson, an AI-powered conversational platform, and experienced the power of the personalized communication they can generate, driving to a quicker and often more frequent purchase.
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