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The Role Of Retail
In just a decade, the role of the retail store has, and is continuing, to change significantly. The stores of today are looking for new ways to create retail experiences that combine online and physical retail elements to offer their consumers more and allow them stand out from the crowd.
Merging experience with functionality
Retailers are merging experience and functionality together, but what does that actually mean? Well, it's all about creating stores that are fit for purpose but also offer visitors more than what traditional stores do.
Take Amazon Go for example. This innovative store is Amazon’s first foray into the world of physical retail. Based in Seattle, the store involves no queues or checkouts, shoppers simply have to launch the Amazon go app when they enter the store. From here, sensors, computer vision and deep learning tracks and automatically registers the items customers pick up, adding them to their basket. When they leave the store the items in their basket are totalled and charged to their Amazon account, you don’t have interact with anyone at all, if you don’t want to.
Whilst this store is a one off, it highlights just how people want to shop - with minimal to no interaction, whilst still getting an ‘experience’.
How does this change for more ‘personal’ purchases?
What we mean by ‘personal’ purchases, is the purchases that define our personal values, beliefs, tastes and attitudes. Often, shopping for groceries is purely transactional, you know what food you need to buy for the week ahead, and either order it online or mix with the masses in supermarkets.
Let’s take Adidas & Nike’s approach to flagship stores as an example. They have used different design approaches to create a store environment that builds on the ‘functional’ purchase, resulting in an experiential environment that engages shoppers.
Nike’s store featured a mini indoor basketball court and Adidas’ store featured a football turf section known as ‘The Turf’. Both store sections were designed to encourage customers to test their products and show it's about more than just shopping, it's about immersing customers in the values of the brand to make them feel more aligned and connected with them.
Display technology works hand in hand with the store design. Nike and Adidas used animated video technology, static graphic displays and digital signage throughout their stores to offer store visitors an interactive experience that merged physical and online retail together.
This shift in the way display tech is used has resulted in traditionally online retailers making the jump to the high street. Look at Missguided, in their Bluewater Shopping Centre store they used digital screens containing their latest social media posts and trends and across the whole store hashtags feature to create a ‘selfie-worthy’ environment that encourages sharing across social media.
Take this quote from Farfetch founder and CEO José Neves : “three key facts: number one, digital is completely influencing consumer behaviour and the creation of desire; number two, online is growing much faster than offline; but three, offline is still — and will be — where the vast majority of transactions take place.”
So how does retail keep up? Stores will know more about you from the moment you walk in and provide recommendations based off your purchases, something which Jo Malone have started to do in some of their stores with laser and motion sensors detecting when a product is picked up with a interactive display appearing to show shoppers a complementary fragrance
You’ll also be able to see entire product lines without worrying about stock e.g same day delivery, something which is already offered by Beauty Bay and Amazon who also offer Prime Air which is their drone delivery service. An overall more connected experience is to be expected - online will drive the desire to have products, offline will be functional and become even more functional as inventory controls become more sophisticated.