We are in the midst of a retail revolution – and while we’re all a little too familiar with how this time of great change is impacting our sector right now – the true impact it will have on retailers in years to come is still largely uncertain.
To provide some inspiration to retail leaders eager to think outside the box, we hosted our The Future of Retail retail leaders’ breakfast at the ground-breaking Samsung KX space in London’s King’s Cross on Wednesday morning alongside Samsung’s very talented Customer Experience and Showcase teams.
After a delicious breakfast, we gathered in the auditorium space in front of an unbelievably large screen to hear from our expert line-up of speakers.
Here’s some of the key insights that were shared:
Imogen Wethered: Transforming “shops” into spaces for brand relationships, community and inspiration
First up was Qudini’s CEO and Co-Founder, Imogen Wethered, who started by asking the crowd of retail leaders two compelling questions: “Do you ever question your brand’s relevancy?” And “How do you keep your brand relevant to modern consumers?” She then explained how and why brands are transforming their shops away from what the dictionary defines as a “shop” (a place to buy goods or services), into what we at Qudini refer to as “Brand Interaction Hubs”: spaces for brands to provide customers with brand experiences, a sense of community and tailored inspiration. (This was perfectly epitomised by the very space we stood in. Samsung KX classes itself as a Not A Shop but a space for experiences, communities, events etc.) While she was quick to point out that stores will continue to be important for driving sales, she noted the importance of investing in new spaces that act as magical and exciting playgrounds to increase brand relevance through building more powerful and lasting relationships with modern customers. According to Imogen, here are the reasons why:
Customers want to have a great experience
To appeal to modern customers, brands need to offer more novel and engaging experiences, but to do this well, retailers are realising that they need to accurately understand who their customers are and adapt their stores to deliver powerful experiences to them specifically.
For example, the Nike by Melrose store in LA tailors its experience at a highly local level through data analytics from its app. It has a curated section at the front of the store which is stocked with pilot products tailored specifically to the local lifestyle, as opposed to following its standardised global trends.
Customers want a sense of community
Her second insight was that, in today’s social media driven world, modern consumers are eager for a sense of community – and want to share their tastes, interests and passions with like-minded people. To increase brand relevance, retailers are using their stores as community spaces to connect these customers together.
Lululemon, for instance, opened its first experiential store in Chicago earlier this year that connects the local community together. Its store contains two fitness studios, a meditation space, areas for visitors to work, a cafe and, of course, a massive retail space.
Customers want to be inspired and this inspiration needs to be tailored to them
Imogen’s final insight was that customers want inspiration and they want it to be highly personalised and context relevant. This concept was brought to life by The Trending Store in Westfield during the month of July. The pop up store used machine learning to track over 400,000 global fashion influencers in order to establish the top 100 fashion items of that day. These trending items were then given to a team of stylists who hunted out similar clothing and accessories from across the shopping centre every morning for customers to buy that day.
Imogen also went on to mention the new metrics that are emerging to help retailers measure experience, such as PwC’s Return on Experience (ROX). Unlike Return on Investment (ROI), which is typically immediately measurable through sales increases or cost reductions within a single channel, ROX relates to your entire omni-channel offering to develop short-term sales but also lasting brand-relevance.
A brief history of Samsung KX by Tanya Weller
Next up was the Director of Samsung Showcase – KX, Tanya Weller, who shared the inspirational story behind the brands’ innovative new tourist hotspot.
The marketing campaign for Samsung KX is centred around the clever catchphrase Not a Shop but a place you can #DoWhatYouCant. Tanya touched on the reasoning behind it – modern consumers, especially younger consumers, are eager for new experiences, and this messaging makes it abundantly clear to consumers that Samsung KX isn’t what you’d typically experience when visiting a flagship store.
Yet, unlike other brands that choose to cater to the tastes of their very specific target audiences, Samsung made the decision to appeal to everyone – and as such, the space is genre-agnostic, said Tanya, meaning there are experiences for everyone.
For instance, the range of events held at Samsung KX include everything from yoga classes to drag-queen bingo nights to terrarium-making classes.
Tanya also spoke of Samsung’s bold decision to go local. As opposed to many global organisations who tend to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to their concepts stores, Samsung customised its Samsung KX space to local tastes by embracing the history of Coal Drops Yard and the neighbouring King’s Cross area. It also plays an active role in the local community by opening up its space for school assemblies and events.
Samsung’s industry leading customer experience by Abigail Holmes
Our final speaker was Samsung’s CX, Design and Implementation lead, Abigail Holmes, who gave a wider overview of how the brand’s customer support and experience stores intertwine and where the new Samsung KX space sits on the customer journey.
Abigail also shared some interesting insights into Samsung’s overall customer support journey, and how they’ve refined it across multiple online and offline channels. She also shared how they’ve implemented Qudini’s software into the journey with our queue management software, appointment scheduling software, event management software and our ability to choreograph their store team activities alongside their customers.
Touring the Samsung KX playground
After our three fabulous speakers had wrapped things up, our guests were treated to a fully-immersive tour of the Samsung KX space, which included VR driving stations, the Galaxy graffiti wall, a Digital Cockpit showcasing Samsung’s latest smart technology for car interiors, as well as personalised collages and 3D figurines, an AR messaging tree and much more.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along to our event, and especially to Tanya Weller, Abigail Holmes and the incredible teams that work alongside them.
Qudini powers Samsung KX with its software to manage queues, improve floor operations and to take bookings for appointments and events online.