Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reinventing The Term "Retail"

This conversation is based on three facts; one, I come from a background of dealing with retailers of all sizes and independent sales reps.  Two, my perspective is of a manufacturer, and three, I am looking at the retail world from the perspective of a niche market product; big and tall.

I have worked with the biggest apparel retailers on three continents, with all the demands and stipulations, and at the same time I have had to deal with 'mom and pop' stores where the owner would get the UPS driver to leave for a few moments while they removed the product of one box of COD goods and replace them with old junk and then refuse the delivery; keeping the new merchandise and returning a box of old stuff, all unpaid for!

I did view the arrival of the internet as "Freedom!"  Freedom, from the dog eat dog world of retail where the manufacturer was what the rest of the food chain fed on.  I now realize that as a manufacturer, the internet opens up a variety of opportunities to create new points of interaction with the consumer; and in fact, it has created an opportunity for a manufacturer of a brand to equalize the retail equation.

So much of the discussion about Web 2.0 is about the concepts of community, interaction, and change the world and or disrupt current channels; and honestly, the excitement for me is the implementation of these ideas within the existing apparel retail infrastructure; there has to be a third way, a way between the traditional apparel retail model and what is fast becoming the "traditional" Web 2.0 apparel retail model.

Now, as I acknowledged initially our situation is "unique" but any econometric model, you input different data and you get different output; we can literally create our own third way with Pop Up Shops!  Then I came up the following picture and article about Puma and its sporting goods store in a shipping container; they can basically set this self contained retail/promotion venture anywhere they want and also have the flexibility to move it anywhere.

Rather than relying on the internet to develop a sense of community, you can actually take your product to where your community lives.  We could run promotions with our retailers using this concept; we could set it up in the parking lot and promote it to our on line community!  Then I found this product, which is much lighter and takes only 20 minutes to off load and set up:

You could literally have a marketing event every week of the year!  The emails that you blast out on a regular basis could be for something other than a discount or a sale and you would not only be creating a community around a brand but also a stronger sense of community among the community! 

It would be a great way to bring the concept of consumer centric to big and tall, as you could establish stations where consumers could design their own screen printed tees!  From here you could establish more traditional pop up shop opportunities including a store within a store!

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