In the lead up to Christmas, many retailers have started experimenting with what this ‘fresher’ thing might be by opening a small flurry of pop-up stores across the UK. While this is nothing new, this time around it does seem to be the result of increasing demand on the high street for differentiating customer experiences. Consumers no longer see stores as the place of transaction – we can do that from our smartphones now. They want something unique, personal and memorable to convince them to spend their hard-earned money. And this just might be hinting what is to come to the high street in the next years – whether in the form of new pop-up store ideas or as scaling of some of the more successful concepts we are seeing today. So, what novelty experiences does retail offer this Christmas…
A big topic seems to be product curation with the likes of Boots designing its Bootiques pop-ups based on what certain demographics might be looking for as their perfect present. Designing its stores and merchandise to fit the preferences for a specific targeted group would make customers at ease and help them find what they are looking for in one of the most stressful and busy periods of the year. This could be a safe haven not only amid the Christmas shopping madness, but also might answer some more fundamental questions about the purpose of brick and mortar in modern retail – i.e. is the one-stop-shop for everyone format still relevant? Perhaps hyper-personalisation should not be confined only to communications and incentives; why not merchandise and products at scale as well?
Speaking of personalisation, earlier this month John Lewis and Waitrose opened up pop-ups in partnership with DnaNudge. The idea is to help customers pick the most suitable food based on their unique DNA composition. It sounds like some complicated technology from a sci-fi movie is involved, but the experience looks to be seamless and informative. The Partnership is capitalising on the growing availability and popularity of retail DNA sequencing services, to curate their offers and help customers choose the best option for them. This can represent a new frontier of marketing personalisation providing both businesses and consumers the type of data to allow curation of products, services and experiences at the molecular level!
To cap it off, we turn our attention outside of the UK to Hong Kong where Harvey Nichols has been pioneering a new ‘store in your pocket’ model. It will represent the extension of its borderless shopping e-commerce platform into the brick and mortar estate by connecting physical stores in London and Hong Kong in real-time allowing customers to interact with representatives and purchase products from both – an endless aisle on steroids if you will. In a globalised world where online pure players are reaping benefits from the infinite choice of products they can provide to their customers, it is interesting and encouraging to see how a more “run-of-the-mill” retailer is embracing the concept and interweaving it into its more traditional values and business formats. We as consumers can only rejoice at the customer experience and richness of choice such merger of digital and physical can provide us with!
Senior Consultant, Customer Engagement