Gunnebo Business Solutions, Gunnebo Retail Solution, Reflections, Retail, Sustainability

NRF: Sustainable retail, a vital next step

I came to New York in a jacket I bought second hand for EUR 25 in my hometown Ålesund. It is nice, warm and comfortable – and this is what is important to me. If 60-70% of your closet is not used, why not sell it so someone else can benefit from it?

It is a constant source of pleasure to me as I discover that some of my ideals are being put forth as visionary in the retail industry, which I am passionate about. In this year’s NRF, sustainability is one of the key points being discussed and an aspect of it is promoting of re-sale/second hand goods. It’s quite exciting to be a part of this and I will be sharing it all with you.

Young woman is browsing a rail of clothes at mall store

 

Visionary Voices of Ambition, Purpose and Inclusion

The keynote that caught my attention was with four strong female top managers, Mercedes Abramo from Cartier, Shannon Schuyler from PwC, Shawn Outler from Macy’s and Tammy Sheffer from Rent the Runway.

Revolutionizing businesses (ranging from retail to other industries) requires more than just motivational talk, calculable action is needed to unlock potentials and push the edges of possibility. And when it comes to leading the way, some of the biggest moves are coming from female executives. Progressive voices from the biggest names in retail teamed up with CEO Action leaders to share time-honed tactics and winning strategies that are practical.

Couple working in a bulk food store

There has always been a disparity in the treatment of female employees when compared to their male counterparts. Although informal moments are important, it isn’t quite sad that top female managers are treated different than their male opponents. This isn’t obviously not an issue common only in the retail industry, it’s a humanity issue.

What makes this difference in treatment more worrisome is that females even seem to thrive more in the retail industry since it is flexible work. Retail requires a lot of contact with clients and other entities (suppliers, producers, etc), females on average excel in such roles

Issues like this constitute some of the reasons why top management and CEOs are taking political stands more than ever. CEOs are realizing how powerful their voices are and the influence it yields. Progressive views are embraced by many top executives and they can greatly influence employees.

Retail 2020: The dawn of sustainability

The role of technology in retail has started to change the entire market landscape. It’s easy to imagine the stores of the future with magic mirrors or robotic sales assistants. Yes, there have truly been advancements in the technology used in the retail industry and the dawn of 2020 seems like the time for sustainability. Is sustainability growing to the point that it becomes crucial to your transformation journey? How will brands look to adopt technology and sustainability into their operations? If you are constantly plagued by these questions, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Retail and Consumer Goods, Shelley Bransten’s talk on sustainability and impact of technology on the industry will answer all your questions.  Together with Shelley will be Arti Zeighami, Head of AI & Sustainability for H&M, he will share H&M’s sustainability journey and how Microsoft technology equipped them to achieve their sustainability goals. It was good to see Arti again, it was truly an inspiration as always.

Arti noted that retailers are often faced with the question of quantification of product requirement, optimizing supply chain, how much to produce. He also explained that AI in H&M helps perform these computations with fantastic results. He went further to speak on some key tools employed in H&M.

Value chain analysis is a strategy tool used to monitor the internal activities of of a business, retailers in this case. Its primary function is to identify the most valuable activities and those that can be modified to enhance competitive advantage. Simply put, looking into internal activities through the analysis shows the areas where a retailer’s competitive advantages or disadvantages lie. This analysis can shed light on if a firm needs to improve its activities or reduce the operational costs of such activities.

Sometimes having the right products in the right place at the right time is what makes all the difference. Proper strategies and planning of logistic chain a can greatly improve convenience and and lead to higher ROI. Customers are likely to make purchases when products are close to them. Taking data from multiple systems will offer you totally new insights while employing various data mining techniques and technologies diversified your approach and gives you a broader perspective.

The road to sustainability is bound to have a few bumps; so, Test, fail, learn, pivot – then repeat. Making mistakes are inevitable in retail, turning these mistakes into learning experiences will greatly influence your growth rate. Taking on experiments boldly (within reason) and trying out new technology is highly encouraged.

RE-purpose revolution: Upcycling retail’s future

Sustainability has become a top trend. Let’s face it, nobody wants to be labeled as the savage who’s ruining the earth. One of the impacts of environmentalists is that they have successfully managed to make people feel that being environmentally conscious is the new cool. A similar scenario is is playing out in the cosmetics industry, there has been a big influx towards natural products. Tech and industrial giants have obviously noticed this change and adapted to make themselves to being more environment friendly. It’s almost impossible to ignore the fact that retail is shifting towards sustainability.

A lot of retail leaders are doing their best to ensure that they remain relevant and continue to offer their customers sustainable solution. Customers now base their purchase decision on the values of the brand; personal, social and environmental values. It is now clear that to get the best results, then brands have to make purpose-driven decisions that will easily transform the world into a better place. Brands can’t just go around doing what they like. They have to continuously keep the demands of the customer at the back of their mind. It’s only through this re-purpose revolution that the company can reach its peak and keep all of their customers happy. It may seem like a relatively new concept but adopting it is a great choice. So, how do you apply this to your own retail business? The best way to do this would be to learn from the best.

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Hear from some of the most innovative leaders from nimble retailers and break-through digital-first brands who are meeting consumer needs and disrupting the industry.

A fact to always have handy is that consumers are becoming more progressive and conscious; they want to buy second hand, but also need to see something fresh. Customers will willingly buy second hand if it looks appealing enough and satisfies their needs, it’s only a matter  of time before retail leaders set the trend. The growing consumer awareness on sustainability and environmental consciousness are perfect conditions for retailers to slowly introduce the concept of resale. Although a good percentage of this “awareness” in consumers  stems from the urge to look cool and follow trends, it’s  still solid enough for retailers to leverage on.

At some point,  retailers should understand that re-sale does not de-valuate the brand. Among the elite, minimalism and other such ideologies being adopted. These ideologies embraced by high-end customers make them more susceptible to brands that re-sale.

Celebrities sell or give away stuff from their closet that is not used, this on its own should be enough to shed more positive light or re-sale among retailers and customers, shouldn’t it? Resale does not discriminate, the world is ready for second hand sale and those is message that should be preached. The narrative that second hand goods are for the less privileged should be discarded, there’s simply isn’t any logic to it. On the other hand, a wide acceptance of second hand sale will boost the effectiveness and logistics  industries associated with retail.

Another similar idea to re-sale are clothing rental services for luxury items. Brands like Rent The Runway Unlimited, Gwynnie Bee  and New York And Company Closet are already creating significant traction in that field. They work by offering members monthly subscriptions and allowing them  rent 4-6 items at a time, brilliant isn’t it?

Similarly, ReBag is an online store that offers second hand luxury goods. Considering that 92% of luxury item should are bought offline, ReBag switches from online to omnichannel approach to sales. It will be quite interesting to observe the positive effects re-sale will have on brands.

Curious. Distinctive. Uncompromising. Conversations with Recode

Kara Swisher entered the stage with the confidence only she can radiate. New this year, NRF has partnered with Recode to introduce its straight to the point editorial interview style to NRF 2020 Vision’s arena. In this live interview, Recode co-founder and editor-at-large Kara Swisher will leverage her background in tech, media, and commerce to investigate some of the industry’s most pressing challenges, eliciting thought-provoking insights from her soon-to-be-announced interview subject. Swisher has led insightful conversations with likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Hillary Clinton, Katrina Lake, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Jack Dorsey, and many other leading players impacting a broad swath of industries, including retail.

Nothing like a panel of four men talking about women’s clothing

Her “victim for the day” is Ben Silbermann who is an American billionaire Internet entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, a visual discovery engine, which lets users organize images, links, recipes and other things.

Ben gave the audience insight in how Pinterest is created for Inspiration in how to dress, decorate and behave. However Kara pointed out the problems with internet platforms, as they easily become playground for fraud and illegal activities like child pornography. Ben insisted that Pinterest has always had a clear etiquette on contents and are continuously working on enforcing this.

Not wanting to talk too much about the future, Ben could reveal that personalization, and that the consumer should see what they want to see will be important. Also ensuring the confidence of the merchants connected to the platform is important.

Closing KeyNote Goop Lab

The Goop Lab is an upcoming American documentary series about the lifestyle and wellness company, Goop, founded by American actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The series will be premiered on Netflix on January 24, 2020.

Goop started as a newsletter from Gwyneth at a point in her life where she wanted to move from acting into another business. Trying to fill the “whitespace” in her life, she started looking into what she calls Contextual Commerce, a concept where you talk, manufacture and sell what you like and what gives you pleasure.

Gwyneth has been a hot topic the last few weeks with her “Smells Like my Vagina” candle, a topic that amused the american audience here at NRF as well as the customers, as the candle was sold out the first day.

The partnership with Netflix generated criticism of the streaming giant for letting Gwyneth Paltrow use their platform to promote her company which has been under fire for making health claims with no backup evidence. Several critics termed the affair a “win for pseudoscience”. When the first trailer was released, the show received even more notable criticism from the scientific community and evidence-based critics. Gwyneth feels that she is often treated unfairly, but it is not like she wants to take her critics to court, all PR is as you know good PR.

This concludes by visit to NRF, but I will visit EuroShop soon, and look forward to keeping you up to date on what goes on in the world of consumer retail!

 

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