7 Global Innovation Trends for Retailers to Watch

Photo: Sport Chek 

Photo: Sport Chek 

J.C. Williams Group and the Ebeltoft Group have been formally tracking trends in retail innovation around the globe for nearly a decade. Enormous change has occurred within society, consumers, and ultimately, in the retail stores that serve them during this period.  

As a member of the Ebeltoft Group, J.C. Williams Group contributes to Retail Innovations, an annually released publication that includes the latest compilation of leading edge innovation, highlighting individual ideas and the key themes that emerge from studying the whole. 

In this year’s edition, Retail Innovations 10, seven global innovation trends and sixty of the best cases from twenty-one countries are featured.  The seven trends include: curated collections, customization, experiential retailing, “hyper local,” online offline mashup, “retailvention,” and technology intervention. These same global trends were featured at last week’s STORE 2015 conference, June 2–3, in two inspiring sessions presented by J.C. Williams Group’s Senior Advisor Lisa Hutcheson and Ebeltoft partner’s McMillanDoolittle. Let’s take a closer look. 


Innovation Trend #1: Curated Collections

The heart of successful retailing lies in creating a coherent and compelling assortment for customers. It is the job of any retailer to be an effective merchant, selecting the best products they can to create a relevant offer – having the right product in the right place at the right time.

Sample Case (from Retail Innovations 10): Bento Store (BRAZIL - São Paulo)

Photo: www.knstrct.com

A contemporary and inspiring design retail store focused on urban mobility, offering a variety of lunchboxes, lunch bags, and bottles. The store reinvents the traditional lunchbox by driving sophistication, life-style, fashion, technology and functionality, while also creating solutions.


Innovation Trend #2: Customization

This trend is reaching critical mass. Customers can now create a product that is truly their own. Retailing and manufacturing was once predicated on scale, and now we are mass producing goods to achieve efficiency.

Sample Case: Birchbox (USA – NYC)

Birchbox, the subscription-based beauty product service model stepped up from online and recently opened a store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The first bricks-and-mortar location for the brand provides a new way to reach consumers and brings their products and experience to life.


Innovation Trend #3: Experiential Retailing 2.0

With e-commerce growing in sales and popularity on a global basis, retailers are forced to ask more often, “what is the role of the store?” The quick answer is that it can no longer just be an efficient place to buy commoditized products. Stores are social gathering places, centers for knowledge, learning and information, a place for fun, or relaxation. They are the ultimate showcases for merchandise, exciting customers with possibilities. They are motivators to love better, eat better or beautify one’s home. In short, experiential stores are wondrous places that can deliver experiences in a way that a website can’t.

Sample Case: Selfridges Fragrance Lab (UK - London)

Photo: Selfridges

Photo: Selfridges

Selfridges’ Fragrance Lab is an immersive fragrance experience showcasing retail at its most indulgent and hedonistic best. From May 1st to June 27th 2014, customers of the prestigious Selfridges flagship department store in London paid £65 to go on ‘a journey to explore the outer reaches of scent, to discover the essence of one’s self’—as described by its creators. Participants began by completing a personality test conducted on an iPad to determine their tastes and habits, and were then given headphones and an audio guide to begin their journey through a series of ‘sensorial chambers’.


Innovation Trend #4: Hyper Local

There is real power in truly being local. Having the right products sourced from the community speaks to powerful macro trends around freshness, sustainability, and supporting the local community, while attempting to keep prices low. It also compellingly speaks to safety, and the consumer’s desire to become better educated and more demanding about the products they are consuming. 

Sample Case: Begendik Cayyolu Store (TURKEY - Ankara)

Begendik created the new Cayyolu Store in Turkey’s Capitol, Ankara. The main drivers of the new store concept are the focus on freshness and customer experience. The Cayyolu Store produces their products right before serving them to customers and are sold right away. The store offerings include, but are not limited to, noodles, pastries, chocolates, fresh yogurt and cheeses. Furthermore, the store’s indoor greenhouse grows vegetables and fruits that are cultivated through soilless agriculture and freshly served to customers.


Innovation Trend #5: Online Offline Mashup

A new retail era is emerging. It will seamlessly blend the online and offline retail experience together, allowing customers to shop where and how they want, at any time. Online tools are being adopted for in-store use to bring the immediacy of online into the brick and mortar world. We are at our infancy in truly seeing the impact of these efforts.

Sample Case: JeansOnline, Easy Fit & Return (THE NETHERLANDS)

JeansOnline introduced a new fitting service, Easy Fit & Return—a service that lets you try-on online purchases, without having to leave home. An express courier will announce its arrival with a text message an hour to half an hour in advance and will return after fifteen minutes of fitting time to take all the unwanted items back.


Innovation Trend #6: Retailvention

Cases in retailvention break new ground creating new business models. From savvy start-ups to some of the world’s largest companies, these new models force one to rethink the very nature of what retailing can be.

Sample Case: Bilder & de Clercq (THE NETHERLANDS - Amsterdam)

Instead of being an ordinary supermarket, Bilder & de Clercq differentiates itself by offering meal solutions. The idea behind this concept is simple: a store, arranged by dishes, where all of the ingredients for that particular dish are offered in the exact amount required for either one or two people—think of the store as a 3D cookbook. Visitors can choose between 14 different dishes, divided over seven presentation tables. Recipes are tasty and healthy and developed by professional chefs with an emphasis on easy, fresh, and homemade meals.

For demonstrating outstanding innovation, Bilder & de Clercq was the winner of the 2014 Ebeltoft Retail Innovations Award.  


Innovation Trend #7: Technology Intervention

Technology itself is not an innovation; it is what the technology enables customers to do that provides a glimpse of true innovation. Retailers are integrating the use of technology to provide consumers with more choice, more access, and more information than ever before. 

Sample Case: Sport Chek-West Edmonton Mall Flagship Store (CANADA)

Photo: Sport Chek

Photo: Sport Chek

The rise of e-commerce is causing retailers to push the boundaries of in-store experiences and provide next-level customer service. As a result, Sport Chek opened its first flagship store that offers a tremendous, digitally immersive retail experience. With more than 180 stores nationwide, Sport Chek is Canada’s #1 sporting goods retailer.

Want to see more exciting examples of retail innovation around the world? DOWNLOAD your copy of Retail Innovations 10 today.  

About J.C. Williams Group

J.C. Williams Group is a well-known, full-service retail and marketing consulting firm. It offers clients practical, creative, and in-depth knowledge of retailing and marketing, including up-to-date know-how and techniques to make retail operations better and more profitable. www.jcwg.com

About Ebeltoft Group

Ebeltoft Group is a global alliance of 23 consulting companies with a common high level of expertise and focus on retail. Since 1990, Ebeltoft Group has helped retailers, as well as suppliers to the retail sector, remain competitive by blending global retail expertise with each member’s local insight. www.ebeltoftgroup.com

About Retail Innovations 10th Edition

Retail lnnovations 10 is Ebeltoft Group’s latest compilation of leading-edge retail innovation, highlighting individual ideas and the key themes that emerge from studying the whole.  This year’s edition includes 7 global innovation trends and 60 of the best innovation cases from 21 countries.