It has been a tumultuous year for the retail sector. The economic environment is not exactly thrilling, thousands have been laid off or are unemployed, costs are escalating, and people are tightening the purse strings. While big names, like JJB Sports and Comet bit the dust quite spectacularly in 2012, there were others who managed to hold their own in the prevailing chaos. Let’s take a look at some retailers who owned the year.
10. Louis Vuitton: The name has nothing more to prove and its place in the pantheon luxury brands is undisputed. However, it is not the only reason why the brand is on this list. While some luxury retailers like Burberry stumbled this year; Louis Vuitton has kept up with changing consumer perspective while staying true to its core philosophy. It has embraced and updated its travel-centric image, which has ensured its recall value; and also managed to avoid the Asian slump.
9. Zara : Zara has had a phenomenal year. Apart from breaking big into the high fashion scene and becoming one of the most highly valued brands, Zara has emerged as a major global player. Unlike other European retailers, this Spanish brand has got its expansion strategy right. What makes Zara special is that it has managed to rise above the economic mess that has befallen its homeland. The brand also doesn’t appear to be in a hurry; and is advancing steadily.
8. John Lewis. This name defines ‘Middle Britain’, and has a strong and resilient customer base. What makes John Lewis different is that it has been consistent in its core values and been subtly reinventing itself. John Lewis managed to emerge as a savvy, engaging place to shop, breaking away from its bland and practical image. The retailer has also got a great publicity campaign, and it’s key to success is giving importance employee feedback on customer behaviour.
7. IKEA. The go-to furniture retailer has proven how important cost control and constant product innovation is to succeed in a cut-throat market. While most home improvement and furniture retailers have seen sales drop and experienced the squeeze, IKEA has managed to beat competition by rational pricing. Its stress on eco-friendly furnishing and designing is also nothing to complain about.
6. Home Depot. This brand is the most prominent one in the furniture and home improvements sector, and has continued to expand as the market demands. Home Depot is a great example of integrating e-commerce with in-store experience, and a big reason for its popularity is its sophisticated presentation, especially in the DIY category.
5. Waitrose. This is a brand which has shown others how to adapt to multichannel retail. It is also, the British Royalty’s favourite retailer. Like its partner John Lewis, Waitrose’s key to success is employee feedback. While 2012 has definitely been rocky for most retailers, Waitrose is constantly innovating itself and advancing steadily with its expansion plans. It is also a retailer with an excellent online brand value.
4. Hermes. Hermes counts itself among the most prominent luxury brands, but what has made it a 2012 favourite is its strategy in Asia. While other luxury brands are seeing the market cool, Hermes found the perfect chord to strike by taking inspiration from traditional Chinese partnership for Shang Xia, the brand it has created in collaboration with designer Jiang Qiong. Hence, jewellery, furniture, art and garments under this line does not just fit the ‘fashion’ bill, but together come as an exquisite collection. This is a brand that also goes the whole nine yards in matters of customer engagement; with beautifully designed stores and website.
3.Target. With Wal-Mart battles with bribery charges and lobbying scandals in emerging markets, Target has emerged as the discount retailer of choice. It is the retailer for everyone under 45, and has revamped its appeal with designer clothing lines and grocery stores. 2012 was a big year for Target, as it stands poised for a grand Canadian innings in 2013.
2.Tesco. This British retailer is the one which every other retailer has emulated. The world’s third largest retailer is also one of the pioneers in multichannel retailing. Its competitors have also gone for aggressive discounting, but 2012 saw the launch of Tesco Everyday Value line, which was a great success. Another achievement has been the acquisition of music streaming siteWe7.
1. Amazon. This one is the winner, hands down. There is no doubt about the growing might of the biggest online retailer, which has managed to make Google and Apple sweat, and is probably a big reason why shoppers are going online in droves. Amazon saw great business year round- not just during internet shopping holidays, and with launch of country-specific portals, have managed to fine tune its offerings. With great supply chain management, amazing product lineup and innovative forms of customer management, Amazon has managed to emerge at the top of the game, and by all indications, is going to have a solid 2013 as well.