Vogue Global Conversations 4: The Future of Retail

“It has become increasingly clear that we don’t sell things people need but want,” says Pete Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom department stores earlier today in the Vogue Global Conversations talk. Together with him are Emanuele Farneti from Vogue Italy e The Vogue Man in the role of moderator, Pierre-Yves Roussel of Tory Burch and Vittorio Radice of La Rinascente and the topic of the conversation is the closing of shops due to the coronavirus epidemic and the future of the retail physical.

“As Pete says, the most important thing to recognize is the contrast between desire and need,” says Radice, to which Roussel adds, “we operate in a specialized sector to create desires and emotions and we must always keep this in mind. This new reality requires us to be better than in the past ”.

“I feel like saying that all three of us strongly believe in ‘brick’ and in retail in the shop ”, continues Radice. “The question is: how can it adapt to the future? We all have location, rentals, store, shop windows, a network of shops: will this still be the language of the future? “

Here are the main points of the talk.

It’s not about choosing between E-Commerce and physical Retail. They exist together.

“The idea of ​​the store as a stand-alone reality, especially in the United States, is somewhat obsolete,” says Nordstrom. “In recent years, people have moved to a model where the retail online and physical work together, leveraging the benefits of both to offer consumers a 360 ° shopping experience. “

“I believe in both e-commerce and in-store sales. And also to everything in between, a hybrid way of interacting with customers, ”adds Roussel. “The buyer omni-channel“—That is what you buy in-store, online and on social media—”spends four times more in our products compared to those who buy only in-store or only online. This shows that offering different ways of buying has enormous value, both for the customer – obviously – and for us “.

But how can we ensure that a brand can communicate coherently and harmoniously both on digital platforms and in stores without ending up by “cannibalizing” its ideas, contents and confusing customers? The solution – according to today’s guests – is offer something special and unique on each channel. The shop can represent a meeting point and reference for the customer service while online can build a digital community as well as promote fast transactions.

As an example, Roussel explained that some Tory Burch clerks contacted their customers from home, “simply to ask them how they were, as friends.” This type of communication has opened up a new sales channel that did not exist in the past. He also noted that 82% of Gen Z buyers prefer to shop in person rather than online. “Our approach is not based on the type of channel but on a customer-centric perspective“.

Since, as Roussel argues, the purpose of physical stores is bound to change, “we will have to measure their performance differently. It will no longer be the traditional indicator of sales per square meter but the lifetime value of a customer (CLV), the relationship with him and the ability to offer him unique sales channels and experiences.

The retail: sense of community and emotional experience

“The sites of retail what I admire most are those who do not sell anything concrete, “admits Nordstrom. “Their aim is to involve people, inviting them to be part of that community. As a consumer, I find it very compelling. “

Guests agree that communication based on the mere transaction is perceived by the customer as very cold. “Brands that offer something more than the product they sell, that continuously invest in creativity, in the relationship with their customers and in being current, are the ones that will be most successful,” says Roussel.

Root claims the emotional aspect of retail. “Show emotions with your product, in the way you set up your shop, in the way of presenting yourself to the customer and in the tools you use. But show yourself. TO La Rinascente we are trying to present ourselves as one space more than one store: a safe space, in hand, which is always open for you. As soon as we reopen, the aspect of security, of the space in which to feel safe, will be even more important. “

The reopening of the shops will be slow

The reopening of the store and the conditions in which this will occur will differ from country to country. “We envision a learning based approach on humility and responsibility to the customer, ”says Nordstrom. “We want to make that experience evolve in order to always keep current circumstances in mind.”

About the immediate future, Root, whose store La Rinascente are often type multi-level, Talks about staggered opening hours, a rigorous cleaning plan and the use of the mask. “Since they are large stores and spread over several floors, we are developing a system to allow people to maintain the required social distancing. It is a new language that we will have to introduce to combat the situation. “

Nordstrom echoes and adds “We will have to be flexible because it is impossible to predict exactly what the new normal will consist of.”

The fashion system must also change

Considering that the winter collections take to the catwalk in February, arrive in the store in July and go on sale in November, the current fashion calendar needs to be revised. “This is a problem we have been dealing with for a long time – too long”, says Radice, explaining that this model was conceived when the sector was far smaller.

Although guests have been hesitant to propose concrete solutions on some “correcting” the system, Roussel says he is in favor of an approach based on the famous “common sense”, looking for proposals that work for the majority of the sector and emphasizing how the model buy-now-wear-now, seasonal deliveries and postponement of sales may be valid ideas for the future.

“We now have an excellent opportunity before us to reset and act in the best interest of consumers. Pierre-Yves is completely right when he speaks of common sense, “says Nordstrom. “If someone opens a new company these days, they would certainly choose a different approach to these past practices that we continue to follow. Now the opportunity exists. “

If fashion started to produce smaller collections with seasonal deliveries, “the carry over it would become even more important, ”says Roussel. “I think brands with an iconic product that lasts over time are stronger even in times of crisis. It takes years to develop that type of product and we need to protect it. “

Radice echoes him, expressing himself in favor of quality design. “Make sure that every single product you sell is something you want to own yourself. From dignity: to the way it was designed, to how it was produced and the way you sell it. “

To review the whole conversation:

To see the previous talk of the week
“The Future of Creativity” with Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Ize and Edward Enninful click here.

“The Future of Sustainability” with Stella McCartney, Gabriela Hearst and Eugenia de la Torriente of Vogue Spain click here.

“The Future of the Shows” with Olivier Rousteing, Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Cédric Charbit and Nicole Phelps click here.

“The Future of E-commerce” with Angelica Cheung of Vogue China, Virgil Abloh of Off-White and Louis Vuitton Man, Stephanie Phair of Farfetch and the British Fashion Council and Remo Ruffini of Moncler click here.

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