Cold Brew Coffee Takes Off - the rising star in summer drinks is cold brew coffee with reports from the US suggesting an 80% rise in sales. Cold brewing involves the use of cold water and produces a sweeter blend than traditional hot brew coffee. Iced coffee is a popular summer drink in Australia with one South Australian brand reported to outsell Coca Cola. Some iced coffees are produced by cooling a hot brew coffee which is quite different to cold brew. Coffee producers love the cold brew because it uses much more coffee and opens up new markets in a traditionally quieter summer season.
Back To Neighbourhood Stores - one of the most successful global cosmetics chains, Sephora, is experimenting with a more traditional bricks-n-mortar store in Brooklyn. The store is on a Main Street, not in a shopping centre, and it focuses on personal relationships with “advisers”. Being a smaller store, it doesn't try to stock the full Sephora range although they are available through an online facility. There are no cash registers, staff use mobile phones to transact sales, and there are special touches like “advisers” taking a photo of the customers face, linking with the products purchased, and then sent to the customer as a reference for future transactions. It is all about “experiential retail”, creating a personal buying experience that is only available in bricks-n-mortar stores.
Identifying Unhappy Customers - one of the main complaints about larger department stores is that you can never find anyone to assist you and that can lead to anger and frustration. Well Walmart have an interesting solution - put on more staff? - no, Walmart are investigating the use of facial recognition technology that will alert staff to angry facial expressions and direct staff to respond.
Instant Pickup- another recent innovation from Walmart is pickup towers which are conveniently located within the store. One of the main attractions appears to be that you can browse products online, and rather than wait for delivery, you simply go to the store, scan a barcode for your product at the tier and within 45 seconds your item is presented to you at the tower. No running around endless aisles looking for your purchase. Sort of like a robotic concierge and all part of the browse or buy online and pickup in store convenience.
McDonalds Looks Outside Shopping Centres – according to the Sydney Morning Herald, McDonalds are looking to airports, railways, and highways for expansion rather than shopping centres. As shopping centres look to increase their food content from around 10% of stores to more than 30%, the competition within centres becomes more challenging. McDonalds said they were primarily focused on restaurants with drive throughs.
Consumer Confidence Unlikely To Change Much – as monthly consumer confidence figures continue their roller coaster ride of ups and downs, the underlying trend shows little change. ANZ’s Head of Australian Economics recently said – “We believe the upside in sentiment will likely be capped, given soft wage growth, high levels of household debt and a slowdown in house price growth,”
Husband Storage Pods - The Global Harbour Mall in Shanghai has introduced what it calls “Husband Storage Pods” designed to entertain husbands while their wives engage in the time consuming process of shopping.
The pods are essentially a mini video games centre that include a chair, computer, monitor, and game controllers. We can see an application for these at QVM although keeping traders out may be a problem.