The Appeal of Real – Shoppertainment Management

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Posted by: Clare Andrew | Last modified on 09/04/2019

The retail industry is constantly adapting to change. The rise of online giants such as Amazon has changed the way people and even retailers themselves think about retail. People tend to think the change has been asymmetrical, with physical retail being forced to adapt in order to survive in the new world but, as the last few months have shown, the change goes both ways because these online giants are no longer just online.

The once distinct line between the digital and physical worlds of retail has become blurred as more and more online retailers turn their attention to retail destinations such as shopping centres to take up space for short-term promotions. 2018 saw a trend of online brands opening pop-ups, proving they’re becoming more aware of the advantages that having a physical foothold in the industry can have and judging from the success these brands saw we can expect to see plenty of other online retailers become hybrids between digital and physical.

Short-term spaces have proven themselves perfectly placed to provide online retailers with the opportunity to test the market without having to commit too many resources but we’re also seeing an increase in physical retailers turning towards pop-ups as they provide a more flexible alternative to the traditional store. For retail landlords, this sort of option allows them to diversify their commercialisation offer and the concept is an ideal element to include in retail events such as student sessions.

The sudden rise of these types of concepts has taught us that the bricks and mortar store still carries a massive appeal, enough even to attract the attention of the titans of online retail. After all you can’t beat the appeal of real and a good returns policy is a poor substitute for being able to try before you buy.  

Online retailers can make their products become tangible to the consumer. For brands like Boohoo or Not on the High Street this marks a radical change from the norm, turning their traditionally digital offer into something customers can experience, rather than having to rely on images or videos. This will satisfy the generations that may not use online shopping.

Having this physical market presence in support of their already established online presence means they can unite consumers to use their preferred method to shop, which for plenty of people is physical. In fact recent research from Retail Week into the shopping habits of Generation Z, a generation that has never known a world without internet, found that only 38% of those surveyed preferred to shop solely online. That same research found that the ability to try products before they buy them was one of the biggest influencing factors in deciding whether or not to shop in-store.

However it goes far beyond helping online retailers convert from clicks to bricks, in recent years we’ve seen plenty of temporary stores from already established brands that have been built around enriching customer experience as a whole. Brands from Moet to Nandos have all been combining the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ concept with experiential retail to disrupt shopping experiences while also increasing their exposure.

Hermés, for example, used the resurgence of popularity in vinyl to promote the range of silks they had on offer by creating The Silk Mix event. Consumers inside their shop store could listen to any number of records or cassettes all of which was wrapped in one of the 225 styles of silk the brand offers, forcing consumers to physically interact with the different silks and therefore be able to gauge their quality.

Nowadays anyone can buy whatever product they want with a few taps of their finger, so it only makes sense that traditional retail would be looking to compete. Online retailers are looking to establish themselves in the physical world to increase the ways consumers can interact with their brand, whereas physical retailers are looking at ways to diversify and provide customers with an experience they can’t get online. These new concepts have proven themselves fully capable of fulfilling both these needs so don’t be surprised if they end up sticking around and becoming a more permanent part of the industry.

Right now we’re seeing a shift in consumer attitudes. No longer content to just ‘buy’, shoppers want to ‘do’ as well. Shopping centres have been among the first to recognise and capitalise on this with many now maintaining allocated space specifically for experiential events, such as space for health and wellness classes or prosecco bars, aimed at providing customers with an experience they can’t get elsewhere. We’re also seeing more and more brands working closely with shopping centres as space on the mall space provides them with the perfect short term option to promote a new product or service.

Pop-ups are flexible, exciting and different every time. This is what consumers want, they can shop anytime anywhere so traditional retail spaces need to be offering something more, something that draws them in and holds them there.

Clare Andrew, Managing Director of Shoppertainment. Commercialisation and Marketing specialists.