There has been significant buzz around the fact that many brick and mortar stores are closing their doors thanks to the new rush for online retail. Singapore is no stranger to the trend, with online retail growth far outweighing in-store purchases in 2018. On the other hand, several brands that started out online, such as Glossier, Bonobos and yes, Amazon too, have begun opening physical stores, suggesting there is still a benefit to the face-to-face sales experience.
However, if physical stores hope to maintain their relevance, certain adjustments will need to be made. In order to flourish in the new retail environment, retailers will need to intelligently and deliberately embrace systems to complement the world of online sales. While this could mean re-designing entire stores to create a smaller footprint, it could be as simple as designing and installing extra signage. A qualified retail interior design firm will advise on making these changes seamlessly, to embrace this new generation of design.
Make the Shopping Experience Unique
Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all concept. Today’s buyers want to feel special and that a product has been specifically tailored to their needs. While the value of having a physical store allows for trying on items and testing out products, retailers need not let this limit the options offered to their customers.
Almost every shopper has a mobile on hand when in store, so product specific features can be added to the physical offering to enhance the shopper’s experience. Things like dynamic pricing, and providing information that previously was not accessible to customers like product stock sizes and colour availability in store.
With dedicated brand/store apps, smart software will learn about a shoppers habits, and begin to make suggestions for complementary purchases, inform when preferred brands are on sale and, essentially, tailor the shopping experience to the individual. While a store assistant wouldn’t be able to provide information on things like product reviews, and more detailed specs for a product, this information can now be offered at the tap of a button.
This means adding minimally to the existing store layout. Signage relevant to all products will be added to provide the codes offering this enhanced experience of information about products.
Brick and mortar stores have always been held hostage by the availability and cost of the rental of the space. However, now stores will be able to reduce their footprint and related overheads, by supplementing available space with augmented reality. Some retailers have already started experimenting with AR in the form of allowing customers to ‘try on’ makeup and clothing, or project what a decor item will look like in their home before they purchase, thus providing a valuable pre-sale tool.
Layout will be designed with the AR spaces in mind, perhaps with space dedicated to each item, that allows for many people to ‘view’ the same product at the same time. Storage in back of house may become more valuable, with less product needing to be on display at front of house. Rather than having racks and racks of displayed products, customers will be provided with select items, then through their app, an inventory of AR alternatives in style and colour. Thus shops will be able to ‘expand’ their shop space with almost limitless isles of AR product.
Finally, retailers are taking advantage of brick and mortar spaces to provide enhanced experiences related to their brands, without even focusing on a sale. This could be anything that promotes the lifestyle associated with the brand, for instance Vans has a skate park in their London store, and Doc Martens’ turned their space into a concert hall. By introducing customers to the personality of the brand, retailers are providing an opportunity for a ‘deeper connection’. That, in turn, creates brand loyalty by showing customers it’s about more than just the profits.
The industry of retail has changed to meet the demands of a new, younger, opinionated, experience-focused shopper. The technology and software available to retailers today means that the possibilities are endless, but only if this change is embraced. Home Guide will provide expert advice on which of the changes will best suit your brand, along with how to implement them. The importance of designing a store to suit local tastes is also being championed by Singapore’s retail designers, enhancing local benefits while embracing international trends.
Though it may seem that online is eclipsing brick and mortar, the above developments prove that it is possible to merge the two and create a successful, symbiotic result. Following on from the theme of providing an authentic experience, retailers need to make changes that will add value and not just make change for change’s sake.