Retail has changed a huge amount over the last 18 months. Whether you’re a brand or a retailer, navigating the changes can be hard. Predicting what’s round the corner? Even harder.
We caught up with Wizz Selvey, founder and CEO of WIZZ&CO — a consulting agency built to help retailers and brands scale — to hear all about her retail predictions as we move into 2022.
Having previously worked as Head of Beauty at Selfridges, and as a Director at Cowshed Beauty and Soho Home, Wizz is in the ‘unique position to have been pitched to thousands of times’, so has a real sense of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to retail. We’re so happy we got to hear her insights on what’s ahead.
Hi Wizz! Can you tell us about some big retail trends that you’ve seen be accelerated by the pandemic that are here to stay?
A huge number of customers have moved to digital shopping this year, as they’ve found so much convenience there, but physical retail is certainly still the key to capturing a customer long term, and the surge of customers returning to shops has been huge.
Also, there’s been a big category shift in what people are buying, in which fashion has suffered, and ‘conscious consumerism’ has come out on top, with people really thinking about what they’re spending their money on, and why.
Sustainability, across all sectors, has become crucial, as people revisit their wardrobes, cupboards, and give new life to things they might not have used since before the pandemic and lockdowns. The resale and the hire markets have also affected purchases in fashion. We’ve seen a huge rise in people purchasing beauty and wellness, as categories that have been growing for a long time, as people invest more in their own wellbeing and health.
The definition of ‘what luxury is’ has changed for a lot of consumers – is it about experience or products? And they’re re-considering what’s valuable to them, in the wake of a slightly new way of life, and of shopping.
In the UK, we saw a high number of high street shops closing in the first half of 2021, with fashion being hit the hardest. What is the role of physical retail as we’re heading in 2022?
Physical retail has gone through an undeniable shift. A lot of brands and retailers have shut down, but these were mainly retailers that were already struggling, had not innovated, and weren’t offering a unique customer experience. If the store isn’t fresh, new and exciting, customers know they can easily buy the products online, so those retailers suffer.
These stores closing has highlighted the fact that retailers and brands need to be thinking of a more holistic approach when considering their offering. The role of physical retail is really about the interaction with the product, the experiences and the customer service.
The purpose of WIZZ&CO is to help brands scale. What is your advice for small business owners trying to take it to the next level? How about big brands who want to expand even more?
My advice for small brand owners is to really think about the whole customer journey. Where can customers potentially discover your brand? How many different touchpoints are you focusing on? This can be quite overwhelming for smaller brands, but collaborations are a big opportunity to reach new customers, and as one of the big trends of 2022, this is certainly something to consider, to expand your distribution channels. These are all things that could fastrack your growth, and access a huge amount of new customers overnight. I’d recommend having a solid strategy in place to reach more shoppers, and ultimately convert those to customers, too.
For large or small brands, engaging customer loyalty is always a big opportunity. How can you engage with your existing client base, get them to purchase from you again, create raving fans of your brand and ultimately brand advocates who act as free PR for you? This is low-hanging fruit that a lot of brands are missing out on.
With Christmas discounting and January sales just around the corner, what is your advice for handling these potentially challenging high sales periods?
This time of your can be hugely challenging for discounting and promotional strategies, which can be damaging to a brands’ profit, and also to their perception by customers. So, having a solid strategy in place at this time of year is crucial; when you’re going to discount, how often and what the offers are.
There are plenty of ways to use promotional tactics and strategies without plastering flat discounts all over the website, but thinking strategically about when, how and where you’re offering these incentives to customers. Sometimes these could be email subscribers only, tiered discounts, or offering additional value in other ways. This is something I work closely with clients on, to increase their sales but ultimately to maintain profit for their brands.
What are your top three predictions for the retail sector in 2022?
Physical retail is not dead! It’s about experience, and continuing to engage and excite customers. As we’ve said, there are a lot of retailers who have left the high street in the past year, but there are also a lot of new ones who are investing heavily in the store experience. So, definitely watch out for those, who are creating new, experiential ways of shopping for customers, as those are the ones to be partnering with!
Conscious consumerism is a big trend for the coming year. People are really thinking about when and how they spend their money, and are generally in one of two different camps. Some have money saved from the pandemic, who have not been spending as much and are now open to ‘splashing their cash’, keeping focus on socialising with friends and purchases for their own wellbeing. Others have been watching the pennies, showing a big shift in purchase habits and popular brands. The biggest opportunity for brands to harness the ‘conscious consumer’ is to think about the experience that they’re providing to the customer, not just about the product. What other value are they adding to their lives, to their experience, and can this be enhanced by collaborating with other brands with a similar audience?
How people are using digital. People have been completely overwhelmed with how much information there is on digital in the last few years, but peoples’ attention span is dwindling, so they are spending even less time on social media; scrolling more quickly, so it’s more about how you can provide a deeper connection and experience, digitally, to your customers. Stronger customer service opportunities and more in-depth events for smaller groups of people are big opportunities for brands to harness in the coming year.