Walpole Insight | Inside Retail Reopening

Monday 12th April saw retail brands open their doors for the first time in many months; last week, we were joined by key retail leaders for a Walpole Webinar to discuss how they have managed this reopening and how customers have responded.  

Walpole’s Charlotte Keesing led the panel discussion with Harrods’ Managing Director Michael Ward; Anne Marie Verdin Mulot, Director of Digital Marketing & Communications at Value Retail (Bicester Village) and Spring Studios’ Insights Director Sally-Anne Limb. The panel discussed what is key to building customer confidence in bricks and mortar retail; what customers want from their shopping experiences now; and the impact of months of pent-up demand on the UK’s luxury retailers – with a view on both the outlook for the coming months and the innovation gathering pace in terms of customer experience and selling ceremony.

Read the Spring Studio report: Harnessing the Retail Re-Opening Opportunity

It has been three weeks since the easing of lockdown restrictions for ‘non essential’ retail, and we are all looking cautiously to the future. But what is the short- and medium-term outlook for luxury – and which key customer insights and trends are going to shape this next phase?

Even prior to the pandemic, the role of physical store was changing at pace, something further accelerated by extended periods of store closure. Yet, despite growing digital dominance it’s clear that bricks and mortar retailers who can create a compelling offering can still capture people’s imaginations and drive footfall — and amid the emotional resonance and pent-up demand of reopening there’s no better time to consider the potential.

A recent report by Spring Studios considers key opportunities to drive success in the post-pandemic era, from tapping into the rediscovery of the importance of local mindset and community to the reimagining of physical space in the context of digital augmentation, creating immersive experiences and connecting digital first and direct-to-consumer brands to reinforce relationships forged online in lockdowns.

Conscious consumption continues to drive purchasing decisions, something that luxury retail with its inbuilt product longevity is well placed to meet and encourage, while meeting the sensory pleasure of physical shopping with the extensions offered by digital offers exciting possibilities to amplify experiences – everywhere is a ‘content studio’ now, as brands seek to interact with customers beyond the shop floor in real time. And in reimagining retail destinations as cultural hubs that can accommodate a range of activities beyond shopping, brands can add a layer of awareness that powerfully reflects their values and character.

Of course, safety and security will continue to be everything for some time to come, as people return with varying degrees of confidence and caution, combining pragmatism such as controlled footfall with innovative pivots from click and collect to digital queueing. What’s clear, though, is that as people’s relationship with virtual shopping continues, it is physical engagement that will help differentiate the experience. Creating magical user journeys through combining personal attention with technology may prove to be the unbeatable combination.

Read the Spring Studio report: Harnessing the Retail Re-Opening Opportunity
Watch On Demand.
Contact RSVP@thewalpole.co.uk for more information.
COVID-19 24/07/2020
COVID-19 24/07/2020
Walpole Insight | The Art of British Luxury Hospitality: Reflections in light of COVID-19
READ MORE
Research & Insights 06/04/2021
Research & Insights 06/04/2021
Walpole Insights | Luxury in the GCC – What’s Next for the Middle East Post-Covid
READ MORE
Research & Insights 22/03/2021
Research & Insights 22/03/2021
Walpole insights | Renaissance-Ready Leadership with Philosophy at Work
READ MORE