Lessons from the 20 Coolest Retailers

In case you missed it, Inside Retail recently revealed the 20 Coolest Retailers in Australia. It’s an inspiring list of businesses big and small that are doing things differently in a wide range of categories, from fashion to food, and beauty to sports.

Here, we’ve compiled some of their best insights on everything from creating a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, to staying ahead of the trends, to building the right team.

If you want to learn more about the 20 Coolest Retailers, you can download the report here.

On the shopping experience

Ultra Football

“It’s tricky to build a concept that people will seek out when you’ve got online. The whole idea behind our Sydney store is it’s an experience; it’s not just standard retail. It has an EA Sports lounge, a customisation zone, indoor football pitch, full-time barber, in-house Italian restaurant…it’s the best retail football concept in the world.” – Matt Adams, general manager

Mecca

“In this new world, for customers to come in-store, it has to feel like they’re walking into something really interesting and fun. They need to feel like they’re getting something out of it that they can’t when they just go online. Thirty per cent of store space towards interactive experiences, because the transaction is just a byproduct of that customer engagement.” – Jo Horgan, founder

The Daily Edited

“Our most interesting activation would probably be our Cafe TDE concept we created at Chadstone Shopping Center, we sold cakes and coffee alongside our accessories. I just love coming up with ideas on how to express the brand and showcase our products in different ways that are interesting and experiential for customers.” – Alyce Tran, co-founder

Outland Denim

“Fifty years ago, you would walk into a menswear retailer, and the service would be so spectacular that you wanted to go back just for the experience. As we became bigger and faster and everything got out of control, we lost that, and it became a transaction. I think we’re going back to that.” – James Bartle, founder

On finding inspiration

Camilla

“After months of researching a country we’re interested in and refining a tight itinerary and strategy, I board the plane to wherever it is we’re going for three weeks and push out 12-hour days unearthing every kernel of inspiration I can find. 

“In the digital age with information being so widely available, not many designers are undertaking these trips anymore, but these mean the world to us. We’re professional treasure hunters and I find the design process so much more authentic and fulfilling when we undertake this approach.” – Camilla Franks, founder

On putting the customer first (really)

The Iconic

“Everyone talks about ‘customer centricity’ but do they actually really truly mean it? Is it really at the heart of what you do, part of your DNA? I can hand on heart say that ‘customer centricity’ is The Iconic.” – Erica Berchtold, CEO

On good old-fashioned customer service

Winning Appliances

“Our company’s mission is to provide the best shopping experience in the world and as a century-old, fourth generation family business, we have never lost sight of good old- fashioned customer service. 

“Our product experts don’t work on commissions, so customers can be assured that they are receiving unbiased advice. We offer free pre- and post-purchase cooking demonstrations and our in-house culinary team, which cooks daily using the appliances in the showroom, are on hand to demonstrate to customers the results they can achieve from their appliances.” – John Winning, CEO

Sneakerboy

“[Our staff] have proper relationships with customers where they communicate frequently if not daily. The people who who work in-store and shop in-store have a lot in common…that’s why I’ve taken the focus off social media content and why I like to focus on old-fashioned retail stuff now. Picking up the phone and calling someone; inviting them to the store…all that’s been so helpful for us this year.” – Chris Kyvetos, founder and creative director

On leadership

P.E Nation

“I think people underestimate that organic passion and emotion in business, but I’m not afraid to have that in any kind of meeting, whether it be creative or financial. I’m loud and proud about being emotional. It’s the emotion that actually drives the business.” – Pip Edwards, founder

On trends

The Grounds

“It’s important to just stay on top of trends and keep it fresh, because we do have a lot of regulars coming through but at the same time, we’re appealing to a lot of people for the first time.” – Neil Burke, group general manager 

Sneakerboy

“There are waves of trends and customers. At Sneakerboy, we’re lucky that we’ve been at the tip of the first wave since 2012. Kids don’t come to us for a fourth- or fifth-wave trend…We provide a service to the kids who are looking for direction in terms of what’s next.” – Chris Kyvetos, founder and creative director

On building the right team

Harris Farm Markets 

“We’re one big family at Harris Farm. We’ve come a long way since Mum and Dad opened their first fruit and veg shop in Western Sydney back in 1971 to a business still 100 per cent family owned with 22 stores across NSW and counting, boasting over 1,500 employees.” – Tristan Harris, co-CEO

HoMie 

“As cliched as it sounds, it’s the calibre of people involved that make this business truly special…always striving to do more, but never compromising on approaching each new endeavour with diligence and respect.” – Nick Pearce, co-founder and CEO

On doing the right thing

Zambrero 

“Zambrero has a mission to donate 1 billion meals by 2025. We are incredibly proud of our Plate 4 Plate program, where a meal is donated to someone in need for every burrito or bowl purchased. Locally, Zambrero partners with Food Bank to fight hunger in Australia. We also provide a meal to Australians doing it tough by donating a meal with every purchase from our Grab and Go range.”- Richard Riboni, general manager of marketing

The Iconic

“As a fashion retailer, topics such as body positivity, diversity and inclusion, as well as social and environmental responsibility are inherent to the nature of our business. They’re also topics we know are the utmost importance to our customers, our people and society, so for us, acting to ensure our business continues to improve and create meaningful change is a huge part of what we stand for.” – Erica Berchtold, CEO

Koala

“We started the business with the mindset of supporting the Aussie icon and endangered animal – the koala – in collaboration with WWF. Over time we contributed to more and more conservation, from fighting the turtle feminisation issue to supporting other projects that help to leave a smaller footprint on earth.” – Mitch Taylor, co-founder

GlamCorner

“In 2020 and beyond, we expect to see fashion rental in Australia expand beyond the niche ‘early adopters’ and into the mainstream market. This will especially be seen in the proportion of the average Australian woman’s wardrobe that is rented / not owned increasing to higher levels as they seek more sustainable and ethical alternatives to fast fashion.” -Dean Jones, co-founder

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