Retail Forum: We can see your shopping future

29.05.2012 Retail Futures 2012 : Ruby & Millie : Anna-Marie Solowij

London – Vibrant chatter, streaming sunlight and blossoming plants in The Future Laboratory courtyard garden – LS:N Global could not have picked a more perfect day to host its Retail Futures Forum.

The Forum coincided with the release of LS:N Global’s Retail Futures report.

Held on Thursday 24 May, the event charted the most significant issues affecting the global retail market today – from the UK and the BRICs to the newest emerging markets on the block, the CIVETS, the MAVINS and the CAPPTs – as well as outlining retail’s most significant emerging and future trends.

Keynote speakers included Ed Burstell, managing director of Liberty, Faye Toogood, founder of Studio Toogood, Dean Fankhauser, co-founder of social network/e-commerce venture Nuji, Jonathan Chippindale, CEO of leading augmented reality/3D retail specialists Holition, and Anna-Marie Solowij, former beauty director at British Vogue and Millie Kendall, of Ruby & Millie fame, co-founders of new beauty retail concept BeautyMART.

Guests, meanwhile, included the great and the good of retail, including Francesca Danzi, director of strategic customer initiatives at Burberry, Linda Hewson, head of creative at Selfridges, Morwenna White, creative director at The Outnet and Amber Pepper, head of marketing and communications at Harrods.

The shifting global economy was one central theme at the event – with eyes to new markets, new rising middle classes and emerging middle-class consumers in uncharted markets. ‘These consumers behave, and shop, completely differently,’ said Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory. ‘Mobile phones are how they bank and exchange money. M-commerce will become hugely significant in the future – not just in these markets, but globally.’

Meanwhile, LS:N Global examined key opportunities for Europe and established markets.

Burstell discussed the future of the bricks-and-mortar retail experience at length, as well as the importance of retail theatre and entertainment in driving customers from their laptops to the shop floor. Director of one of Britain’s best-loved historic stores, he also emphasised the importance of staying true to a brand’s DNA. ‘You have to crystallise what it is that you are, and why people come to you,’ he said.

Toogood expanded on this theme, with discussions surrounding multi-sensory experiences in-store – and the importance of engaging and inspiring consumers when shopping.

Fankhauser, co-founder of rapidly ascending start-up Nuji, discussed the importance of curation and peer-to-peer recommendations in retail, as well as the potential of social commerce. Nuji, part social network, part shopping wish list, enables users to curate their own ‘favourites lists’ and connect with friends’ must-have shopping lists. All are linked to e-tail.

Chippindale raised the potential of augmented reality in the future online retail experience, giving consumers new opportunities to try, or experience, products before they buy. He also highlighted how augmented reality programmes could also drive people into stores. ‘We created a Tissot augmented reality shop window at Selfridges. Consumers came along, engaged and virtually ‘tried on’ the watches on the outside. Tissot saw an 83% increase in their sales from the increased interest and publicity.’

Kendall and Solowij, meanwhile, concluded the afternoon with a discussion of the editorialisation of retail: how blogging, magazine presentation, language and editing can have a huge impact on sales. ‘Until recently, there has been a huge disconnect in how beauty brands present and sell products. Editorial and personal voices have a huge power in motivating consumers to buy beauty items.’

Watch this space for video interviews with our keynote speakers. Purchase a copy of the LS:N Global Retail Futures Report here.

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