Retailing: Trends and best practices
In the last years, retailing has experimented a convergence between physical and digital world. The physical stores have reinvented by offering an interactive experience to the customers in order to enhance their shopping experience and also the engagement with the brand.
One of the best examples is the new store concept of designer Rebecca Minkoff, who opened recently two stores in New York and San Francisco. Customers can choose the products they want in the “connecting wall”, a large mirrored interactive display. After making their selections, shoppers can have a cup of coffee and wait few minutes until having their products sent to a dressing room, each of which is also outfitted with the mirrored touchscreens. Once in the fitting room, they can grade the intensity of light and can still browse the online catalog and select and request additional products on the touchscreen.
Retailing has experimented a convergence between physical and digital world, what Dr. Alexis Mavrommatis defines as ‘phygital’
This is what professor of EADA Marketing Department Dr. Alexis Mavrommatis defines as “phygital”, a concept which was presented in his conference titled Brick is back: The new role of physical stores in retailing. It was a live seminar celebrated at EADA and followed on streaming by more than 200 people from around the world. As he told, “push has become pull, necessity has become choice, mass-production has become custom, unique and personalised”. In this new context, “traditional stores still remain fundamental in the purchasing process however they need to adapt or they will die”.
Retailing: Keys to improve shopping experience
Dr. Mavrommatis presented some of the latest trends and best practices from some of the leading and cutting edge offline and online retail companies. For instance, he talked about involving customers at different levels. In this case, a representative example is Wasbar, a new concept of launderette located in Ghent (Belgium) where young people –above all, students– have a cup of coffee, enjoy live performances of starter groups, have a brunch on Sundays or even cut their hair while doing their laundry.
He also referred to customer engagement by doing Corporate Social Responsibility actions. He highlighted the TOMS Shoes campaign ‘One for One’ to help children in need around the world. The main goal is matching every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need. Regarding this, Alexis reproduced a well-known sentence by Coca-Cola’s former Bryan Dyson: “Value has a value only if it’s value is valued”.
3D-printing tech and mass customization is the future of manufacturing
Another interesting practice in retail consists on brand immersion. To explain it, Dr. Mavrommatis put the example of ‘Intersect by Lexus’, a unique space in selected cities where people can experience Lexus without getting behind the steering wheel of the luxury car. Specifically, guests are able to engage with the brand through events, activities, food and culture. Furthermore, the brand is present anywhere in this space, even in the toilette, where little Lexus cars cover all the walls.
Apart from this, customer experience has to be memorable and personalised. Alexis put two very illustrative examples. The first one corresponds to ‘American Girl Today’, an American line of dolls released in 1986 by Pleasant Company. Each doll has a different combination of face mold, skin tone, eye colour, length, texture and style. This variety allows girls to choose dolls that “represent the individuality and diversity of today’s American girls”. A wide variety of contemporary clothing, accessories and furniture is also available. The second example is about custom-fit 3D printed earphones by Normal: people choose not only the design but also the earphone measure. Dr. Mavrommatis insisted on “3D-printing tech and mass customization is the future of manufacturing ”.
Physical stores have become a culture hub, a place to get together and to interchange relativistic experiences
Finally, he referred to dynamic and holistic stores. What about dynamism? Alexis told the case of Story, a store that is always changing. Indeed, every 4-8 weeks they open a new “issue” editorialized around a fresh concept or theme. “Their view of retail goes beyond the transaction and a permanent space because the experience is everything”, affirmed EADA’s professor. Regarding holistic experience in the stores, Alexis talked about Space Ninety 8, a unique retail concept from urban outfitters that combines fashion, art, entertainment and dinning under one roof. In his opinion, “it’s one more example that physical stores have become a culture hub, a place to get together and to interchange relativistic experiences”.
Take a look to the videos below from three innovative store concepts: