In a world increasingly dominated by digital-everything, what can physical stores do to step up their game? WGSN travel contributor Emily Johnson reports
From installing iPads on every surface to opening a showroom with only virtual products, we are seeing lots of different approaches to winning back the online shopper. These five, worldwide shopping concepts really stand out and are transcending the digital/physical divide.
5 Upper St Martins Lane WC2N 4AS / 44 (0)20 7240 8591
Neighbourhood: Covent Garden
This Starbucks ‘Theatre’ offers the latest in coffee and technology innovation. Queues are eradicated, with ordering done exclusively through the Starbucks app or via waiters with iPads. By focusing on personalisation and lightning quick service in this way, the brand offerings of syrups and no-whip soy-milk confusion are simplified and elevated at the same time.
2. LOS ANGELES
8335 Melrose Avenue 90069 / 1 323 331 9989
Neighbourhood: Melrose Ave
This Melrose based Rebecca Minkoff flagship is equipped with shopper aided technology. Interactive touchscreen dressing rooms allow customers to request new sizes and order in options, while a four-option environmental lighting system adds a fun yet practical way of finding the most flattering style. This system is intelligent, as it acknowledges that the consumer is constantly attached to their smartphone even in the changing room.
3. NEW YORK
328 Bowery Street 10012 / 1 212 777 2013
This NYC Kenneth Cole store is covered in touch-screens and offers a 24-hour service to customers. The purpose of this full-on in-store tech is to make browsing the collections and seamlessly ordering items (through next day delivery) easy. Bringing digital shopping into the store environment gives customers the best of both worlds as they try before they buy. Combined with the 24-hour aspect, this concept mimics the complete shopping freedom usually associated with online shopping.
66 rue de Rivoli 75004 / 33 (0)144619000
Neighbourhood: Le Marais
This new Sephora concept store combines online ordering with physical shopping through in-store touch screens and a robotic assistant. The smaller than usual store means less stock is immediately available, however with the full range easy to order in through digital portals, the limited space is arguably better used. Cosmetics are often difficult to portray online, with so much dependent on colour and texture, so this hybrid space may be a key step for bridging the gap between physical and digital makeup retail.
Swedish car manufacturer Volvo recently demonstrated the safety features of their new models in a new way – involving no cars at all! Prospective buyers, upon arrival at the unassuming showroom, were given a Microsoft HoloLens. This then projected a model of the car and highlighted the new feature – a laser sensor to detect movement of other vehicles. Using augmented reality to highlight otherwise invisible features of a luxury product, demonstrates the ways in which it is superior to a cheaper alternative – not to mention impresses potential clients and elevates the brand experience.
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