We are thrilled to reveal the first of what we hope will be many interviews with business and retail professionals.
First up: Jack Hanrahan founder of Retail Genetics, a business that offers a retail advisory services
We ask his opinion on the current retail environment and emerging retail innovations
Q: What lead you to your specific career ?
A: Leaving school I got a traineeship with discount dept store and progressed very quickly with that company, appointed to manager in 18 months. I love/d the immediacy of retail where you do an action and the reaction from customers is very quick, either a good idea or bad. Feedback for your actions is a great gift.
Q: Who is your favourite retailer Globally from your world travels and why do they stand out ?
A: My favourite store is Eataly in Flatiron NYC and favourite brand Anthropologie. Eataly is one of the most dynamic stores in the world where it is busy morning noon and night with many restaurants fresh food and an dynamic energy that continually feeds your emotions as you walk through the store. It is their best store by far of the ones that I have seen globally.
Anthropologie curate a range of products to a particular segment in the market and execute exceptionally well across their stores, different but cogent to the brand essence. Wonderful experience to walk through their stores and see how they have used visual merchandising and uplifted it to an artform.
Q: Can you share with us your thoughts on convenience in the world of retail. Are consumers more starved for time than money ?
A: Consumers are starved of time but happy to give it up for a great experience. Customers are very demanding and knowledgeable now driven by internet expectations. Convenience and price are great propositions for retailers to use sustainably once you get it right.
Q: Artificial intelligence & Data collection seems to be a hot topic in retail, but are we ready for it? Do we know what to do with it? Love to hear your thoughts:
A: My view is that there is very few if any retailers globally doing a great job with data but they must improve to survive in the coming years. Consumers are demanding personalised, timely and relevant communications. However we need to keep the “creepy” communications to a minimum. Data can provide great insights and steer the business through the changing environment.
Q: Machine learning will be an increasing element of retail network investment. Will robots replace people or simply take over the mundane jobs allowing us to be more creative?
A: Technology investment in Australian retail has been poor but seeing an uplift over the last year or so. Technology can be a great enabler for an improved performance however I don’t see technology replacing people. Of course robots, AI, great software will be used to improve efficiency but retail is a people business driven by the customer.
Q: What are your thoughts on Customisation and Personalisation?
A: Customers want to be dealt with as an individual and not treated as an homogenous group, so customisation and personalisation are key attributes that retailers need to include in their offer.
Q: Omni-channel strategies remain important. The two-way traffic provides advantages to both online and physical retailers. Who in your option stands out as a trail blazer in this space?
A: John Lewis Partnership in the UK have been the leaders in this space with ~40% click and collect and growing. However I think you need to look to China for the leaders in using technology in retail.
Q: Do you think in 2019 we will see more Australian retailers add in-store experience to attract more foot traffic?
A: Australian retailers will have to add experiences in-store otherwise customers will ask themselves: why go into a shop if it’s easier to buy online?
– ENDS –