Podcast Retail

Appear Here on why retail is more valuable than Google Ads

Successful retail decisions are made when physical space is seen as another media channel, says Ross Bailey, founder and CEO of Appear Here, the online marketplace for short retail leases on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.

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Retail is failing when it’s not thinking about audience first, Ross insists. The industry doesn’t think twice about spending huge budgets on Google Ads, but customer acquisition can prove increasingly more valuable through spend on physical footprint, he explains. It’s for that reason, Appear Here increasingly sees the likes of Google or Instagram as greater competition than other brokers. 

“[If you’re playing] the audience game that means that as a brand, what’s the best most authentic, great return on investment medium, that I can reach an audience at for that moment in time, for that campaign, for that product, for that season.  And if that happens to be retail, you’re going to be making that decision over what you’re spending on AdWords or over what you’re spending anywhere else,” he comments.  

Appear Here launched in 2013 hoping to disrupt a long-established market that no longer corresponded to how customers shopped. While commercial landlords demanded an average five-year commitment from brands, customers were dispersing from the high street and shopping in a much more flexible, non-committal way. Today, AppearHere’s short-term rental model – often referred to as the “Airbnb of retail” – sees the company operate an average of 350 stores in London alone at any given time, making it the largest retailer currently operating in the city.

Bailey hopes the model gives brands and retailers much more flexibility to appear and disappear whenever they see fit, rather than wait for the consumer to do so first. For brands across the spectrum, of which he has 180,000 on his platform, there are different approaches however. For luxury names like Chanel, Nike or Netflix, all Appear Here clients, it’s about reaching a new audience or promoting a particular product or campaign; for more independent brands, it’s about creating awareness outside their online bubble where competition is too high without enormous ad budgets, he suggests. 

During this conversation Bailey also explains why he sees no problem with an in-store ballpit as a popular experiential idea as long as it is authentic to the brand; how Selfridges’ early retail days inspires him to think about how to bring back showmanship; and why technology, much like children, he says, should be seen but not heard.

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Why click-and-collect and Uber will continue to beat drone deliveries for retailers – report


Drones might have grabbed headlines within the fashion industry when they appeared on the runway at Fendi, and again via Intel during New York Fashion Week just this past season, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to be impacting retail anytime soon.

There’s a dream that the difficulty of the “final mile” in terms of delivering packages to consumers, will be solved with such unmanned aerial vehicles. But a new European report from real estate advisory firm, Colliers International, shows soaring property costs and strict regulations as two major barriers for a high-tech delivery revolution.

While Amazon first expressed its intentions for retail drone deliveries via “Prime Air” in 2013, regulations on both sides of the Atlantic are yet to make that a reality. As the Amazon page dedicated to the ongoing project reads: “We will deploy when and where we have the regulatory support needed to realize our vision. We’re excited about this technology and one day using it to deliver packages to customers around the world in 30 minutes or less.”

In Europe for instance, the European Commission last year said it wanted further regulation on commercial drones in order to prevent issues with safety, privacy and data protection. “Worries around privacy for residents, businesses and public bodies in the flight path of commercial drones carrying recording devices have led to worries around national security and breaches of privacy as well as noise pollution,” reads the ‘From Sheds to Shelves’ report from Colliers International.

Meanwhile, demand for commercial property from big players such as Amazon in and around cities like London, has seen a rise in costs for such urban logistics spaces too, it explains.

This all comes at a time where increasing online sales suggest there is growing need for local delivery hubs to ship goods to consumers. But the report recommends retailers focus on existing methods such as in-store pick-up, collection lockers, bicycle couriers and taxi services like Uber.

Head of EMEA industrial and logistics at Colliers International, Tim Davies, says: “Realistically with rising rents and increasing complication of airspace regulation, drones may become more trouble than they’re worth.”

Here are some further insights from the report:

  • Collection points have grown as a natural solution in congested cities with consumer groups typically less willing to wait at home for a delivery. Around 33% of customers in the UK are now choosing in-store collection followed by 13% in the US, though Colliers International expects these numbers to double by 2017
  • Towns and cities are going to a need more intricate network of urban logistics to cope with online demand. This will create a need to develop retail warehouses in and around the periphery of cities where land values are greater per m2 than in far out places where large warehouses traditionally locate
  • Skyscraper sheds could be a rolling theme as land around?our cities tightens. The world’s tallest warehouses now reach 24 storeys, and accommodate automated systems. Many schemes across Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan are multi-storey and similar schemes are now being considered for in-fill development in tightly constrained US cities
  • Traffic congestion in Britain and other European cities, coupled with the need to improve air quality and manage urban CO2 emissions is seeing an expansion of cycle logistics companies which are faster, and more importantly, greener. As urban warehouse footprints expand, these cycle logistics services are set to increase
  • Bonus fact: Hugely increased vessel sizes are reshaping the layout of ports worldwide. As containerised shipments have grown by 290% over the last 15 years, vessels are now around 25 times the size of their 1970 equivalents in order to cater for the extra cargo