With an emphasis on and growth of the omnichannel approach, the gulf between the eCommerce landscape and physical store space is narrowing.
The high street is beginning to embrace digital, transforming how consumers shop in the process.
Retailers have traditionally treated the shop floor as active warehouse space for selling products and the online environment as a space in which they emphasize brand experience which leads to sales. But an isolated approach such as this isn’t necessary for success. As retailers seek new ways to lure consumers away from their laptops, they look to bring elements of digital to the in-store experience.
Consumers are demanding something more: a new experience-driven space that bring the elements of shopping online into the real world. Retailers are taking notice; 37% are expanding or creating new in-store experiences, bringing the internet IRL. It’s a technique that has seen many shoppers return to store with a 5% increase between 2015-17.
Missguided have been one of the key retailers to capitalise on this trend. As they’veventured into bricks and mortar from their traditional online-only offering, they’ve pushed digital right to the forefront. “[Our] vision is to bring the digital world into each of our shops using innovative technology” said David Pollitt, their head of IT operations. In short, the aspiration is to make shopping fun again.
The joy of browsing can be lost in a lot of eCommerce platforms, as emphasis can lean towards getting customers transacting quickly and simply with a “fewest steps to checkout” approach. It’s a behaviour that’s been picked up by retailers in store and clearly there’s a balance to strike between guest-checkouts, 3-click buying, next day delivery and fun shopping experiences.
The new store
Enter Arket: H&M owned, the scandi inspired store, café and lifestyle brand launched in the UK last week. The design of the store itself replicates some of the fundamentals of the digital landscape: white space, sans serif branding, a few items key items laid out in display. Rails burgeoning with product have been replaced with tables that showcase the individual items; the consumer has to collect their size from another location. It’s a technique that creates great continuity between their online and in-store experience.
A few days prior to their hotly-anticipated bricks and mortar opening they opened their site to newsletter subscribers, providing a 20% discount and an enticing preview of the products. The store opening firmly remains the main event, but those who had access to the preview sale will undoubtedly be drawn into store to discover more. It’s a strategy that sees site and store working together, with one fuelling excitement for the other.
Having the two working in tandem is a tactic that they plan on mobilising in the long-run. with each item sold containing a unique identification number, so the consumer can search for the updated product through the site when they’re in need of a replacement down the line. Thus, the website and the store work together to reinforce the brand’s key messages about sustainability, standing in direct opposition to fast-fashion and instead building pieces (and brand loyalty) that is built to last.
This change in retail landscape will be fundamental for retailers as the key functions traditionally reserved for the eCommerce environment are increasingly brought into the store environment. The sooner retailers engage with an omnichannel approach the better.