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Revolution of the real world shopping experience

Stimulated by dramatic innovations in the world of m-commerce, the physical retail space is currently undergoing a dramatic revolution as experiential treats, and new forms of entertainment, social connections and convenience are injected into it. Already, over 50% of women agree that "for me, shopping is more a source of entertainment than a chore". The shopping experience is increasingly moving away from something merely transactional towards a genuinely alluring leisure destination that re-engages shoppers with brands and evolves the definition of customer service...

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Please click here to receive your free copy of the TrendExpress article ‘Wish you were shopping here: Retail to write home about’ from the Future Foundation website.


As a result of increasingly competitive e-commerce and m-commerce channels and a wobbly global economy cauterising consumer spending, the retail space has been forced to innovate dramatically to deliver truly attractive and engaging destinations. As a result, it is evolving beyond supplying purely monetary-based transactions towards the creation of unique emotionally-rich experiences.

This phenomenon taps into several established Future Foundation trends such as Mobile Living – indeed, integrating consumers’ mobile devices into the shopping experience is becoming a key priority - the Experience Economy and Smart Boredom. Consumers are seeking out novel experiences and activities that transform all forms of downtime into something active and productive and these aspirations are increasingly reflected within the retail landscape. Consumers’ rising expectations of Out-of-Home Leisure are also a compelling consideration for retailers.

Technology is set to play an increasingly dominant role within the physical retail experience. In-store technology is already beginning to vastly enhance the shopping experience, connecting us with our social networks, facilitating price comparisons and access to consumer reviews, helping us to better visualise how we will look carrying or wearing certain products etc. The electronics store, CompUSA in the States already invites customers to browse the internet for product information, price comparison and consumer reviews on the very same computers and devices that are being offered for sale. And earlier this year in the UK, Selfridges experimented with an augmented reality ‘magic mirror’ that super-imposed Tissot watches on a live image of shoppers on screen. And finally, Diesel stores in Madrid and Barcelona have introduced touch-screen Diesel Cam kiosks located near changing rooms that allow individuals to upload photos of themselves trying on outfits on to Facebook.

Although these forms of technological innovations will remain relatively niche for the time being – they are still at an early stage and carry somewhat prohibitive associated costs - we would expect them to become a hygiene factor for the real world store of the longer term future.

Digitally-enhanced in-store service delivery will also render the shopping experience far smoother, speedier, more personalised and more enjoyable. It is already an overwhelming majority of 95% of consumers who choose "good quality service" as the most important attribute when choosing a leisure activity, out of a list of thirteen options (Future Foundation Research, 2010). Sydney restaurant Global Mundo Tapas for instance has now replaced printed menus with iPad devices on which diners can view additional nutritional information and send orders directly to the kitchen via wi-fi. Retailers are determined to reduce waiting times and inconveniences and to introduce a cushion of luxury into the shopper’s day.

The ‘sample club’ model – whereby members join a club to sample products from selected brands on a regular basis – is becoming more prevalent within the retail space. Sao Paolo’s Clube Amostra Gratis for instance allows members who pay a small annual fee to trial products before they are officially launched and even take a handful of them home with them each month. Brands and retailers may choose to imitate this model to engage novelty-hungry consumers with new products and allow them to trial new items before they decide to invest in them. Indeed, we would expect more floor space to be devoted to the concept of ‘trial before you buy’ in future.

What seems certain is that the days of merely transactional real world shopping have passed. Shoppers now expect to be courted, amused, indulged, educated, and all the while in a time-sensitive and convenient context... 

Please click here to receive your free copy of the TrendExpress article ‘Wish you were shopping here: Retail to write home about’ from the Future Foundation website.

 


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