As our lives become busier and online shopping continues to disrupt the traditional retail sector, you only have to look at the changes on our high streets to know that there is a revolution going on in the way that we shop.
In the last year, household names such as Beales, LK Bennett, Karen Millen, Forever 21 and Mothercare have all been affected by store closures and job losses due to bricks-and-mortar stores increasingly losing the attention of customers.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel according to retail expert Robert Lockyer, CEO of luxury packaging supplier Delta Global. The brand provides packaging to the likes of Coach, Ted Baker and Radley and Robert was keen to point out that while the traditional shopping experience is far from dead, it really needs to diversify dramatically.
Well-travelled especially to commercially progressive countries such as the US and Hong Kong, Robert said: “As the standard store has declined due to the ease of ecommerce and customers putting both experience and values first when deciding to make a purchase, I’ve witnessed brands creating almost an in-store ecosystem.”
“Customers can expect food and drink, live fashion shows and music, instant personalisation of goods and unforgettable experiences. “It’s about creating a combined online and offline concept and curating spaces that enhance the shopping experience and even offer multi-sensory or interactive elements that suit a buyer’s lifestyle.”
Create a multi-sensory experience
“Brands must create hubs of interest that appeal to sight, sound, smell, taste and touch,” said Robert.
Artistic interior design makes the customer want to capture it on their social channels, scents can instantly associate brands with a feeling – think of beauty and pamper brand Lush for instance.
Stopping people in their tracks Burberry have implemented live elements such as the world’s tallest retail screen, immersive sound facilities and even revolving stages for live catwalk shows or musicians. The feel of furniture and even the dressing rooms aids how luxurious the entire experience is for a buyer. Cafes and taster samples also instantly make you feel welcome.
Naming the current in-store model as ‘boring’, Robert said: “Customers need to be reenergised. Transform your store into a gallery, think artistically and innovate the way you merchandise by taking your customer on a journey and tell the story of your brand through clever design and customised experiences.”
Just recently, in London St Pancras station Lancome installed a 36ft Eiffel Tower made from 1,500 bottles of the brand’s La Vie Est Belle fragrance. Visitors could also have products customised with illustrations and calligraphy in the pop-up shop below.
Shops are increasingly looking to extend the time spent in store by producing a multipurpose outlet. Upon unveiling their largest ever store, last year Primark introduced pamper booths, cafés, barber shops and even collaborate with other brands such as Disney to theme their space and create Instagrammable areas of focus.
The more mindful shopper wants to see forward-thinking stores pairing old with new, switch and swap possibilities and eye-catching edits to their already owned apparel. With 31 % of US consumers stating that they will pay more for products that have the least negative impact on the environment, it is obvious that shoppers are looking for brands to act on the environmental crisis.
“Customers want brands to help them streamline their wardrobes and offer personalised and high-end pieces for almost every budget,” said Robert.
“By offering facilities and incentives such as money back at ‘recycling and resale’ stations and clothing care and repair hubs, stores can be one solution to loving your clothes for longer as tired clothing can find a new lease of life and even be customised while you shop.”
Stores also give you the flexibility of ‘try before you buy’ meaning there is no wasted time returning unwanted items which ultimately should reduce the buyer’s carbon footprint.
The luxury sector has seen a surge in designer resale websites such as HEWI London, ThredUp and Designer Exchange where you can purchase second-hand or unwanted goods at a lower price.
Physical stores are adapting to this notion, with Selfridges pairing with Vestiaire Collective to open a pre-owned section to their store on Oxford St in London and John Lewis trialling money back vouchers on returned goods in 2019.
Embrace digitalised functionality
Cashierless checkouts, mobile grab and go systems and personalised machinery will become the future. Moving in technology such as quick embroider and print devices means shops can tailor garments in a matter of minutes – faster than any online service.
While online may be the competition for in-store experiences, digital advancement will actually help improve shopping facilities and ease of purchase.
Influencers love filming fashion hauls and ‘style and accessorize’ stories on Instagram while they shop. Noting that influencers are attracted to experiential and creative spaces to showcase on their feeds Robert said: “Social media icons will create content and brand awareness for you, so take advantage of this. I’ve seen smart mirrors in dressing rooms that can share imagery and video straight to social media and even interactive store windows that feature live catwalks”.
Communication and personalisation
The more personalised, the more valued the customer feels. For example, Marks and Spencer have implemented a ‘human’ element to their promotional periods where they gift a free personal stylist straight to your mobile in order to curate a collection of outfits to suit your style and shape.
Facial recognition technology will change the way people buy makeup – the future will see us viewing a range of eyeshadow colours directly onto an image of our face, without having to test them onto the skin for example.
“Brands need to think digitally, try implementing interactive and scannable QR codes on railings which will connect the customer to an app or webpage that tells you what to pair with the item you’ve selected in order to cross-sell.”
Packaging continues the brand journey
“The bag that you carry as you exit the shop, on the bus or tube and through your front door needs to be as exciting as the item inside,” said Robert.
Consider how many of us show off our new purchases to others in our households? Making packaging part of that moment is the key to brand awareness and selling.
Throughout recent years, the plastic bag which once dominated the in-store industry has come to an end and paper and reusable solutions have took shops by storm. But many brands still haven’t cottoned on to the idea of experiential exit packaging even though over one third of purchasing decisions are made by the look and feel of packaging.
Nowadays, social media influencers also use distinctive and beautifully designed packaging as props to style their Instagram photos and brands will start to make the most of this to expose themselves to a much wider audience.
“Consumers are looking to feel exclusive, so your direction and designs need to be refocussed regularly, think beyond the customer’s expectations and make it happen.”