Retail

From groceries to placemaking, retailers are reinventing their post COVID conversation with shoppers as retail itself becomes more immersive, expressive, dramatic and hyper-personalised.

Need to Know
18 : 10 : 21

A Chinese post office becomes a community space, a cellular-based coffee alternative and a snapshot of APAC’s shifting retail behaviours.

This post office is a hangout for local shoppers

Bund Post Office by Yatofu, Zhejiang, China Bund Post Office by Yatofu, Zhejiang, China
Bund Post Office by Yatofu, Zhejiang, China Bund Post Office by Yatofu, Zhejiang, China
Bund Post Office by Yatofu, Zhejiang, China Bund Post Office by Yatofu, Zhejiang, China

China – The Bund Post Office by Finnish architectural practice Yatofu re-imagines the traditional mailroom by offering a versatile space that brings community, local festivities and lifestyle retail to the fore. The multi-purpose postal hub in Ningbo offers a range of services that go well beyond the usual remit of the post office, providing locals with a stylish event space, gift shop and children’s play area.

The design of the space is in response to research conducted by the architectural studio that shows that post offices are busiest during the holiday season. As a result, the walls of the space are painted in festive reds and greens, and the gift shop allows visitors to purchase and send presents from one place. ‘It reaches beyond its founding purpose of sending and receiving mail, and offers a hub where visitors can connect with one another through the sharing of gifts, memories and events,’ say members of Yatofu studio.

With more and more people opting to shop online for gifts, physical retail spaces have had to evolve in order to meet the preferences of consumers looking for convenient and memorable experiences. By creating an expressive environment from which to conveniently buy and send presents, The Bund Post Office is tapping into the Inspiration Per Square Foot trend.

Strategic Opportunity

Photogenic retail spaces can be a powerful way to attract consumers who want to document their shopping experiences on social media

Urbanista solar charges its headphones for infinite playtime

Los Angeles by Urbanista Los Angeles by Urbanista
Los Angeles by Urbanista Los Angeles by Urbanista

Sweden – The technology brand has worked with solar cell company Exeger to offer innovative headphones that can be charged using solar power. Aligning with Urbanista’s city-based product naming system, its solar-powered version is called Los Angeles. To achieve its power-saving functionality, Urbanista integrates Exeger’s proprietary material technology, Powerfoyle, into the headphones’ armband.

A supporting app also allows users to see in real time how much energy is being used by wearers’ proximity to light. By integrating this solar cell technology in a seamless way, the brand claims people can achieve infinite playtime, just by wearing the products outside. Bringing together innovation, sustainability and all the features you could wish for in headphones, Urbanista Los Angeles is designed for someone who lives an on-the-go lifestyle,’ says Anders Andreen, CEO of Urbanista.

As well as offering a convenient solution for consumers, this innovation sets an example to brands in being less reliant on conventional power sources that are harming the planet. Indeed, as Andres Colmenares, co-founder of IAM, says, tech brands must address the environmental emergency.

Strategic opportunity

Hardware companies must begin to prioritise such sustainable elements at research and development phases. Aim to create seamless solutions that won't require consumers to sacrifice conventional technology experiences

Lab-grown coffee could offer a lighter footprint

Finland – In a potentially defining moment for the alternative coffee industry, the VTT Research Centre of Finland has created a drink that smells and tastes like conventional coffee but does not rely on agricultural processes. The cellular-based coffee alternative is generated using a bioreactor that also produces various animal- and plant-based products.

With huge tracts of land now needed to grow coffee beans and increasing public concern about the sustainability of the industry, cellular-based alternatives present a huge opportunity to meet the rising demand for coffee without harming the planet. ‘At VTT, this project has been part of our overall endeavour to develop the biotechnological production of daily and familiar commodities that are conventionally produced by agriculture,’ explains Dr Heiko Rischer, research team leader at VTT.

Although the project still has a way to go before it hits the supermarket shelves, it’s a significant step towards future-proofing supply chains of one of the world’s most popular drinks.

VTT, Finland VTT, Finland

Strategic Opportunity

The race to reverse-engineer popular food is heating up. Companies should consider investing in alternative and cell-based production to meet the rising demand of certain products and to satisfy eco-conscious customers

Stat: Subscriptions and second-hand are powering APAC retail

Cooler is a subscription service that offers working-from-home essential boxes Cooler is a subscription service that offers working-from-home essential boxes

Shifting consumer mindsets in Asia-Pacific are resulting in significant growth opportunities for retail channels such as subscriptions and rental. According to research by McKinsey & Co, in countries such as Japan, Australia and China, 60–90% of adults online subscribe to at least one service.

Many consumers across the region are also embracing second-hand products. In China, the market is expected to have doubled in the past three years. Meanwhile, rental services are growing too – particularly in areas such as housing, consumer electronics and fashion.

These findings indicate diversifying consumer behaviours across the APAC region, and suggest new opportunities for retailers looking to court Asian consumers. To discover some of the ways in which brands are already experimenting in this area, read our Subscriptions Market and Fashion Rental Market.

Strategic Opportunity

Brands looking to enter the APAC region should take advantage of this demand for subscriptions and ongoing product opportunities. Meanwhile, try to balance this with catering for a growing demand to shop second-hand

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