Retail Reimagined

Innovation, creativity and community-focused

There are game changers in the retail space who embrace technology and thrive on pushing the envelope in their industries. Take Nike, for example, a brand that is brave enough to take on unchartered territory at the forefront of creativity, taking chances and leading with confidence and ambition for innovation, creativity and community. 

 The emerging web3 scene – an umbrella term that includes cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse – may seem to be on the fringe to many mainstream businesses, but it will impact every organisation as surely as the internet has done. 

 – Nick Abrahams, Contributing Editor Financial Review 

In recent years, Nike’s digital strategy has seen them venture into NFTs, web3 and the metaverse. We have seen similar digital advances with other top retail brands looking for marketing growth and innovation, including Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, and many more. However, it’s not only the big brands that see potential in this rapidly emerging technology. Take Melbourne Footwear brand Rollie Nation, trailblazing a new concept flagship store in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, embracing all the advanced next-gen technologies available.

Rollie was launched in 2012 by Founder and CEO Vince Lebon, named a ‘Brand to Watch’ by the world’s leading trend forecasting service WGSN and featured in various leading media publications such as Vogue, NBC, Esquire and more. Recently named one of the 20 Coolest Retailers in 2022 by Inside Retail, Rollie opened their flagship store in August this year, featuring a futuristic multi-sensory NFT gallery with plans to add web3 and metaverse innovations to their space.  

Vince Lebon – Rollie Founder, CEO and Designer

Rollie sells to Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Canada, the USA and New Zealand. Apart from selling directly to consumers, Rollie also supplies wholesale to retailers such as Anthropologie, Free People, and Style Runner and is currently in conversations with other much-loved suppliers for their newer seasons of footwear. 

Payments Consulting Network Marketing Partnerships Manager, Bernadette Walsh, recently approached Thomas White, Creative Director at Rollie, to find out more after meeting him earlier this year during an NFTMelb twitter spaces event hosted and founded by Daniel Monge. She asked about their flagship store, NFTs and other digital innovations and whether they have plans to introduce cryptocurrency in the future.  

Thomas White (Creative Director, Rollie Nation) and Bernadette Walsh (Marketing Partnerships Manager, PCN)

IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH DISRUPTION 

Like many retailers, Rollie took a massive hit during the pandemic. The brand pivoted as discretionary spending slowed down. There is truth to the expression that necessity is the mother of invention, and during a crisis, you need to find innovative ways to survive. Lebon’s quick and creative thinking enabled the company to minimise the impact and weather the storm. 

Apart from increasing their social media presence, Rollie identified nurses as a big part of their consumer base who still had jobs. So, they created an online promotion targeting their 150+K strong social media following, thanking them for their dedicated work, resulting in a lift with 92 per cent of sales generated from that initiative. 

Despite challenging market conditions during and post-pandemic, Rollie has continued to grow in revenue seeing approximately 10%+ YOY and is on track to grow 60% in new customers this year alone. They have also seen an increase in their social media audience. 

PHYSICAL STORES REIMAGINED 

During the pandemic, people became accustomed to the online shopping experience from the safety and comfort of their homes. This disruption forced retailers to rethink how to bridge the gap between online and offline channels. Some began to deploy innovative strategies to integrate physical stores into their omnichannel networks by offering a unique shopping experience. Retailer Rollie leveraged new digital technologies to build a successful omnichannel retail experience.   

With its new flagship store, the brand has created an innovation hub to showcase its ever-expanding range of bestselling footwear. They have also developed a state-of-the-art NFT gallery dubbed RollieX – the largest digital gallery in the southern hemisphere. Not bad for Lebon, who launched at the South Melbourne Market 10 years ago. 

Through its futuristic multi-sensory NFT gallery featuring 16 rotating screens of works by emerging local and international digital artists, Rollie aims to cultivate community spirit and culture, contributing to the customers’ hyper-personalisation experience. With over 35 artists spanning 150 pieces of curated work, from Ukraine to Dubai, France to Flemington, the artwork on display is 3D+ motion centric, very conceptual and visually appealing.  

NFT artwork from various artists globally

Rollie is taking a holistic approach with their space by planning multiple events from art, music and other creative collaborations, offering additional opportunities to build and expand their community. 

As for selling the NFT work or consigning the pieces, Rollie is currently building a concept site where they can display all currently exhibiting artists – with affiliate links to artist stores. Many arts pieces in-store have QR codes that link directly to the product page for quick checkout. 

Without offering too much information, Rollie mentions they are underway with building out an NFT/shoe collaboration concept – something exciting for both footwear and NFT fans. Plus, another huge brand collaboration in the pipeline schedule for next year. 

Artist: Alexy Préfontaine (Montreal) - @Aeforia created graphics for @odesza 2022 live tour and currently has it displayed in Tokyo’s Narita airport on a huge screen

PAYMENT OPTIONS 

Currently, Rollie accepts Visa and Mastercard via Shopify payments (including ApplePay). They are in talks with a large payment service provider to implement up to 15 cryptocurrency payments for their website and in-store early next.  

Despite recent shake-ups, cryptocurrency is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Last month, Walmart’s Global Chief and Technology Officer, Suresh Kumar, addressed how crypto will impact customers’ future buying and transacting. Kumar believes that the metaverse and social media are driving mainstream acceptance of digital currency as a key component of Walmart’s future payments strategy. 

WEB3 AND THE METAVERSE  

As an early adopter in this space, Rollie has multiple pots burning with digital/IRL (bringing URL and IRL together) and ‘phygital’ activations (using technology to bridge the digital with the physical world to provide a unique experience for the user). They are also conceptualising ‘token gating’, a web3 tool at the forefront of innovative retail experience adding value to their customers’ digital wallets, earning rewards through exclusive product access, discounts and additional perks.   

 “It just feels like the natural evolution of the IRL and online retail experience. Being able to merge those streams into super personalised shopping and elevated fashion experiences is an incredibly exciting prospect for shoppers and business owners alike. At the same time, we’re only just scratching the surface on web3– and giving power to creators and artists is sure to bring about a number of use-cases that were never before possible. I can’t wait to see what’s next”

Thomas White, Creative Director Rollie Nation 

Integrated experiences beyond omnichannel strategies will be the hallmark of future retail spaces, combining physical and digital experiences. In physical stores, retailers will continue to curate brand experiences to generate demand for goods and services.  

Looks like Rollie is starting to tick all the boxes. 

Author: Bernadette Walsh, Marketing Partnerships Manager, Australia, Payments Consulting Network

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