Sunday 15 December 2013

Why New Traders And Innovation Are So Important To QVM

Retail centre owners (including the owners of QVM) seem to regard retail concepts as part of a simple evolvement that will take its natural course. CD’s have moved on and online music particularly through mobile phones has moved in.

But is this latest trend in retail – what has been described as a “tsunami” of retail decline – just a trend that will take its course or a “call to arms” for a whole new look at how we relate to customers. We need to be careful here because history is full of knee-jerk reactions that in hindsight missed the mark.

But let’s abandon clinical analysis for just a moment and express some gut reactions to today’s retailing dilemma. Surely this is more than just concept or category evolution. How can business be so flat at QVM just 8 days before Christmas? How can we have big crowd days that produce small crowd business?

Dennis Price has just written an excellent article in Inside Retailing in which he identifies food as the guide to what customers are embracing. We know that statistically food is on the rise. We have seen a proliferation of food outlets at QVM and even the humble food van is experiencing a dramatic rise into gourmet food categorisation in our own String Bean Alley. Customers are embracing variety, choice and innovation.

Dennis Price identifies some consumer behaviours that food taps into –
1.Consumers can (and want to) experience things on a multi-sensory level. (Experiential.)
2.Consumers want to be involved in the (co-)creation of their products and experiences. (Co-creation.)
3.Consumers want personal (customised) outcomes. (Personalisation.)
4.Consumers appreciate the value of things that are unique, artisanal and special. (Authenticity.)

The trick is to translate those factors (Experiental, Co-creation, Personalisation, and Authenticity) into other categories. In fact we could translate them into a whole-of-market view and this is where new traders and innovation by current traders become so important. It is early days, but maybe food is providing us with the guidance we need to stimulate the whole retail feel at QVM.

The idea of filling the vacancies in our market with new, exciting traders and concepts was the basic premise of our article headed – Why reduce General Merchandise When There Are More Positive Alternatives? Traders will be pleased to know that we do not appear to be in conflict with management on that point, at least not in the short term. Our CEO assures us that management are working very hard to attract new innovative traders to QVM, to fill the gaps in our product ranges and to make our market more exciting for customers.

Who knows? – maybe a combination of new traders, innovation by current traders, and some guidance from the humble food category will steer our path.

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