Point-of-sale: new formats for the stores of tomorrow

FROM POP-UP stores to experiential and virtual stores, specialty retailers are experimenting with a multitude of recent innovations. Here’s what consumers might expect to see more of in the future.

Experiential shopping and temporary pop-up stores seem to be especially popular at the moment. The Italian luxury brand, Fendi, for example, has made creating your own bags possible, after launching its myBaguette app, and opening a pop-up store last year in Soho, New York, using huge neon hashtags that decorated the side of an entire building.

But this initiative is not the only one, and far from it. The Technology Trends study from Euroshop in 2014 identified five possible concepts for the point-of-sale of tomorrow.

Experiential stores or Five Star boutiques

Going back to the traditional values of retail and service, the five-star boutique aims to offer improved relations and greater familiarity with the consumer, trying at all times to put them at ease. In other words, comfort should come before any pushy sales tactics. Taking on the idea of home comforts, the client is more likely to be welcomed by a ‘coach’, rather than a vendor. The German retailer, Globetrotter, which specialises in sports and outdoor pursuits, even allows customers to test their waterproofs in a room filled with continuous light rain. This means being able to test how well a product works ‘in situ’, not to mention many other additional services too.

Among other initiatives, are: being able to test children’s car seats and even push chairs over multiple terrains, like bitumen or stone, for a large store near Montpellier, and for the French retail kids chain Orchestra; or sports shops that double up as gyms for the retailer Sweaty Betty in the UK.

The digitised store

This digitised store offers a direct link between the physical store and the website of a brand. Its main objective is to streamline the experience at the point-of-sale through the use of various digital devices (terminals, tablet PCs, mobile apps etc.) to help both clients and salespeople look up information. It’s largely about personalising the relationship with the client and giving greater interactivity. The French apparel retailer, Kiabi, for example, recently installed terminals in some fitting rooms to reduce waiting times. Similarly, Burberry had the idea to provide iPad’s in stores so that customers could virtually create the trench coat of their dreams.

While surfwear brand Quiksilver offers its customers the chance to design their own custom-made boardshorts at Quiksilver online or at flagship stores. As for lingerie retailer Empreinte, instead of conventional stores, it operates workshops where clients have the opportunity to customize  their own lingerie.

The showcase store

As part of an omni-strategy, the showcase store aims to create a direct link between a brand’s products and its sales staff, with the goal to provide better information to meet the needs of the client. The womenswear retailer, Kate Spade, became well known after launching tactile shop windows in four temporary boutiques in New York in 2013, with direct links to eBay. These interactive shop windows, available 24/7, allowed clients to virtually choose products, pay and have goods delivered in less than an hour.

The virtual store

This new type of store is based on how consumers increasingly shop anywhere, anytime – whether at work, home, leisure or school. In essence, it’s about giving a more physical dimension to a mobile application. Interactive showcases, for instance, were used by Gucci for its Spring / Summer 2013 collection during Fashion Week in Milan, with five high-resolution screens (Kinect technology) that recreated the catwalk shows, allowing customers (and staff) to stop, rewind and review products in more detail.

The temporary shop or pop-up store

Pop-up stores are increasingly appearing in your area and are currently undergoing a major expansion. They allow any virtual brand or service to offer a physical presence on the high street. They can also help grab the attention of customers. For example, in London, the furniture brand Viseo has partnered with Coffee Roasters and Four Corners Books to offer a pop-up store much like a living room in your home, with an appealing mix of books, coffee and contemporary furniture.

Overall, these five new store concepts, although quite different, all share a common goal: to revolutionise our everyday shopping experiences and ultimately improve customer loyalty. Even for those consumers that still share an attachment to the values of traditional stores, everyone likes progress. A number of advances in digital technologies are helping bring about this change. What’s more, a combination of renewal and reassurance are clearly benefiting both the consumer, and the retailer.

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