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Shopping Spaces: Physical Space, E-Space

Shopping Spaces: Physical Space, E-Space

26 May 2017
Author: Anton Dell

As e-commerce spills into bricks-and-mortar presences and vice versa, shoppers and retailers have more options than ever.  What are the most important insights for small to medium sized fashion brands to take away from today’s ever-changing shopping landscape?


With over 72% of people preferring to shop in physical stores rather than online, according to TimeTrade, bricks-and-mortar is in no danger of fading away.  What is changing is the way in which people shop.  The shopping experiences offered by the mom-and-pop stores of yesteryear are being replicated in new ways via omnichannel shopping.


The desire for personalised service means that shoppers are increasingly reluctant to brave department stores and big-box stores such as Target or Ikea.  In response, many of these chains have set up smaller, more considered spaces that are easier for shoppers to take in, selecting goods based on data analysis of consumer behaviour.  These spaces often also integrate technical advances to provide more intimate shopping experiences that straddle digital and physical platforms.  This is the type of shopping favoured by millennials – the key group of shoppers for retailers today.


But Where Does It Come From?


With more choice and more information at their fingertips than ever, shoppers are putting weight on where goods come from and how they were made.  Ethical concerns play a big part in decisions to buy; brands such as Anton Dell client Bozena Jankowska provide customers with step-by-step information about the creation of products, inviting shoppers to become part of a story and connect to a brand identity through their purchase.  


Just For You


Another way for retailers to provide the type of individualised feel that appeals to contemporary shoppers without coming across as invasive or pushy is to make exclusive special offers via social media.   Victoria’s Secret and J. Crew scored successes with invitations to sales sent to loyal customers via Instagram Stories.  Chatbots and AI serve a similar purpose for some brands, with Starbucks setting up a chatbot for the fall favourite of pumpkin spice latte, allowing fans of the drink to ask questions and get suggestions.  38% of shoppers liked the idea of augmented reality technology in stores, with 45% waiting to see how well the technology delivered before commenting.  Although it has mainly been large-scale retail chains that have experimented with these advances, small to medium sized brands may be joining them before long.


Close attention paid to demographics will pay off for retailers who succeed in crafting the perfect blend of elements to appeal to their particular shopper and provide mobile tools throughout the shopping journey – not only at the beginning or the end.  These trends sit well with the retailtainment of the future – the merging of retail and entertainment.  It is these incentives that will help convince shoppers to leave the comfort of their homes and hit the street in search of experiences, rather than objects. 


Retailers used to think that shoppers would browse physical stores, then buy online, but it has ended up being the other way around, with shoppers using the Internet to narrow down possibilities to then buy items that they can see, touch, and feel.  Stores such as Crate and Barrel are capitalising on that, using tablets to give information about products not available elsewhere and to notify salespeople when shoppers need help.  The human touch is one thing that will never be available online. 


I Want It….  Now Make the Rest Easy


Retailers should try to make sure that the most difficult part of shopping is making a decision between attractive buying options.  The rest should be smooth, effortless sailing. Ideally, payment and shipping options should bring the immediate aspects of physical shopping experiences to e-shopping – and vice versa.  TechCrunch says 70% of American mobile users will make a mobile payment in 2017, while Temando found that 80% expected same-day shipping, with 61% going further and anticipating shipping within 1-3 hours of placing an order.  Omnichannel options can be helpful in this area as well, with Starbucks allowing customers to order and pay via mobile app to then pick up in person.


All of these options require investment; James Hamilton, founder and president of mobile scheduling app Resurva cautions small to medium sized businesses, “…. when it comes to small businesses investing in their digital platforms (aka the backbone of day-to-day operations), cheaper or free have traditionally been the go-to solutions…. [yet] the value a business places on a digital platform tells its patrons everything they need to know about its true values.  As digital platforms continue to become more powerful…. It gets easier for customers to see which businesses are authentically interested in their support.”


The future will belong to retailers who come up with distinctive, creative e-solutions tailored to their target audience.  We here at Anton Dell look forward to seeing what the brands we help come up with




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