This article is part of Raydiant’s new Future of Retail series which interviews the world’s leading retail experts to better understand how the industry has evolved and most importantly, where it’s headed.
The following is from an interview with Allie Egan, President and CEO at Cynthia Rowley.
** This interview was conducted prior to the Coronavirus outbreak**
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
AE: The most exciting thing is we know more about consumers (broadly) and the customer (an actual person) than ever. Technology has enabled us to understand what is going on in her life, whether she’s in New York or Sydney and connect more directly with her. I’m excited that we no longer have to rely on other businesses to tell our story, but have the opportunity to do so ourselves.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
AE: It’s hard to attribute the change to a single force, but what’s most dramatic is the rate of change across all facets of the business. Even since we’ve shifted to our direct-to-consumer centric strategy in 2017, the tools, capabilities and needs of the customer have completely changed. Our biggest task is to continue to stay on top of these changes, especially in consumer behavior and preferences, and be able to act quickly. For example, we launched text marketing when we realized it was the preferred communication channel for many of our customers.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
- Old school service
- Actually relevant personalized marketing
- Experiential activations – in stores and how that can translate online
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
AE: Where we can take true sustainability. Sustainability is very important to us as a brand – all of our wetsuits and neoprene styles are produced using green technology for a gentler environmental impact and everything we make is produced in limited quantities to reduce excess inventory and waste. The ability for the industry to innovate and evolve will be crucial in saving our planet and meeting customer expectations.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
AE: For us, it’s about making shopping fun again. Everything else the consumer does today is a task – a check the box. Through our innovative ‘Nomadic Retail’ concept – we seek to meet new customers all the time and bring them fun and connected experiences that just aren’t possible the same way online. We also think partnerships will go a long way to bring the customer something new and different and help companies thrive by de-risking the investment in physical retail.