At present, both well-known brands, Nike and Adidas, are aiming to provide the ultimate high-tech shopping experience in their major flagship stores. In New York, Adidas has revamped its store to allow customers the feeling of entering a real-life football stadium.
This is complete with entrance tunnels and grandstands, where shoppers can watch sports videos as they enter the store. For potentially seriously interested buyers of Adidas products, the store has set up a specific area where shoppers can ‘test’ out products by running, kicking a ball or even a little bit more fitness in order to truly gain a feel of their new purchase. A ‘try before you buy,’ if you will. Top of the range of portable sensors have been set up to record and analyse stride patterns in order to be sure that customers are making the best purchasing decisions.
In New York’s district of SoHo, Nike has taken this shopping experience to a whole other level. They have completely kitted out their 5-storey store into a modern-day museum if you like, complete with state-of-the-art interactive gadgets. Each floor is dedicated to a different sport, rammed with high-tech gadgets, testing zones, as well as an impressive display of historical memorabilia that is sure to capture the attention of their most fanatic customers. Of course, you’re thinking, that sounds pretty impressive, right? Of course, it is, and it’s a fun place to visit but that doesn’t mean that the quality of the service is maintained at the same, if not, higher standard. On top of a sports fanatic’s dream, this store also provides a ladies lounge, specialise personal shoppers, and also Nike experts to give professional advice on how to improve your overall sports routine.
Back in the day, stores would calculate turnover based on the number of square meters they had to offer. This is no more. Gone are the days where having a big store or a small store meant more or less profit. What is pivotal these days is the total turnover of online and offline sales. Because of this, floor space in this day and age represents a different meaning. In the central shopping streets and department stores, the major brands are able to create clever selling strategies using the available space to better demonstrate their products, organise workshops, give additional training courses, and generally better entertain their customers.
In their larger stores, beauty brands like Sephora have invented the concept of the Beauty TIP – Teach, inspire, play – where technology and advice to customers are coupled together. Make-up fans can, therefore, experiment with new products using the digital service which provides an augmented reality. Customers are able to ‘try on’ lipsticks and mascaras automatically using their reflection on the store’s high-tech definition mirrors. On top of that, it goes without saying that these mirrors make it possible to instantly share your new look with friends and family via your social media. For those customers who prefer an analogue approach can allow opt to follow the ‘classic’ workshops or book a group session. Sephora was quick to spot the benefits of this technique given that it not only did it eliminate the need for customers to constantly remove products off their faces before trying another, it also took care of the question of hygiene. And, if you can’t make it to the store, you can still access the service via the Sephora app meaning irrespective of the channel, the same experience applies.
All that being said, space doesn’t always determine the success or quality of a shopper’s experience. The endless racks and shelves we see in physical stores can now all be found online using the shop’s internet terminals. The physical stores now need to be stocked with a specific number of carefully chosen products. ‘The right product in the right place at the right time,’ is the strategy taken by the classic American super-chain, Target. Their New York store is only a third of the size of other mainstream stores, however, their target audience is altered and here, their focus is strongly towards their urban public.
If you’re not big, you have to be clever. The variety and frequent rotation keep shoppers interested, curious and engaged in what’s on offer. Physical stores, pop-ups, capsule collections or simply varying the products from time to time are all ways to keep customers wanting more and what’s more, keeping their experience at the highest possible standard. As we mentioned before, this experience combines location, engagement, and selection. Stores are not only stores, but they are also fast becoming media and lifestyle hubs, where people liked to be kept on their toes. Now, we see that their purpose is to act more as physical ‘community centres’ where like-minded people can meet.
The shop as medium
In recent years, multi-brand shops such as department stores have unjustifiably been accused of dying out. The point is this just isn’t correct, and the success of these stores is down to the careful product selection along with a clear philosophy that shoppers can identify with. Multi-brand stores also have the potential to evolve into lifestyle hubs where customers can find products and services that can cater to various needs.
In this sense, physical stores become the medium, a place where your story can be told through one of many of the touchpoints with your customer. In actual fact, a physical store can be seen as becoming more like a warehouse, a carefully manufactured experience, where customers are able to discover the brands values and engage in them in the best possible circumstances. It is a showcase where retailers are able to display the brands values and principles, create a vision for what they stand for and where stores can show their customers what is possible.
On this note, the growth of new shopping concepts, especially for men, is a noticeably increasing trend. Along with Bonobos, the American Todd Synder brand is a trendsetting hub for all those fashionable men in New York. As well as the brands clothing, their male customers also have access to Aesop, a famous skincare retailer, a permanent pop-up store and bespoke tailor. In 2017, they added in a barber, a shoe-cleaner, a coffee bar and even a restaurant. And it doesn’t stop there. To further nurture this sense of group feeling, men can also attend out of hours specialised events, exclusively for men. Such events include wine-tasting evenings and personalised shopping experiences.
So long as you have a story to tell, your store is a blank canvas and it is up to you how you wish it to play out to the public.