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Jun 30, 20214 min read

4 ways to adapt to the changing retail landscape.

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by Klarna

The pandemic radically changed the way consumers shop. Brands need to understand those changes, and then adapt their retail experiences to match and leading retailers Rebecca Minkoff, Macy's, The Lip Bar, and Gymshark have advice on how to do so.

The pandemic radically changed the way consumers shop. Brands need to understand those changes, and then adapt their retail experiences to match. To help retailers make sense of the rapidly changing environment, Klarna hosted an all-star roundtable discussion with Rebecca Minkoff; leaders from Macy’s, The Lip Bar, Gymshark; and celebrity stylist Jamie Mizrahi.

Here are a few quick takeaways from the engaging discussion:

Comfort rules, but chic is still in.

Soft pants and comfortable shoes are winners now, and here to stay in the near future. At the same time after a year-plus of isolation and staying in, dressing up has never had more appeal—just in smaller doses. Stylish and comfortable, don’t have to be at odds.

“Customers don’t want to be labeled, I don’t think they want any boundaries. They want to just show up as they are,” Melissa Butler, CEO and Founder of The Lip Bar said. “If you want to wear a ballgown on Tuesday and then sweats on Thursday, they want to be able to do that without anyone having any opinion on it.”

Use social to trendcast and inspire.

Social media’s value to brands skyrocketed over the past year. Unable to travel and get inspired by the world, brands must use social media to identify trends and then create content and products. And it’s never been easier to know what matters to customers thanks to what they’re sharing directly and what’s going viral.

Nata Dvir, chief merchandising officer at Macy’s noted the important duality of social media: “It’s a window to the trends, but really it’s a window to our customers as well. It’s been a helpful way to understand what our customers are talking about, what mood they are in, what are they ready for?”

Values matter to shoppers, but it’s not one-size.

Sustainability is forefront for Klarna, and panelists agreed that it is vitally important for brands to prioritize sustainability efforts as well. Consumers care about values (both theirs, and those of the brands they shop), but how that manifests itself depends on each individual.

“It’s not always about a product, it’s about you understanding consumers want to belong to a tribe, a community. And they want to know what you stand for and what your values are,” Rebecca Minkoff said. “[A shopper] knows when she buys a bag she’s also buying into the value system we have. And we use social [media] to show that.”

Online and in-store shopping aren’t frenemies.

At the beginning of the pandemic, online shopping was a necessity. Now it’s the preference for a majority of shoppers. “We’ve seen an incredible acceleration of people who were never going to shop online, that have now moved 100% online,” Minkoff told the panel, “but stores also need the traffic.”

As Sennai Atsbeha of Gymshark pointed out, “It’s less of an ‘or’ situation and more of an ‘and’ conversation…We love this idea of [shopping and fitness] becoming integrated into every element of your life.“ Retailers need to incorporate the winning elements of online into their in-store experiences and vice versa as shoppers’ habits change for the long-term.

Your authenticity matters, help shoppers achieve theirs.

Businesses need to do what feels right, rather than compare themselves to what everyone else is doing. “Put risk and failure in new perspectives: Everyone fails every day. What did you learn? Take a risk and you’ll always learn something and you never know what you’re capable of until you’re challenged,” Minkoff eloquently stated.

Focusing on process and not the destination is hugely important, Atsbeha noted, “The in-between is what makes your story epic.” By staying true to your brand’s authenticity you’ll not only attract and appeal to the shoppers that matter most to you, but also provide them with strength and encouragement to be more authentic in their lives. Authenticity is powerful for both shoppers and brands as it creates a long-lasting emotional connection.

You can watch the full panel discussion here. And check out Klarna’s exclusive consumer survey, “The State of Smoooth: Reopening Insights Report,” featuring insights from over 29K consumers on what shopping trends are here to stay.

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