In our March round-up, we explore retailer activity and the latest ways that brands are using experience to add value and drive footfall. We also review the new and innovative technology that is changing the way we shop and evaluate the trends shaking-up the grocery sector this month.
Made.com has become the go-to store for millennial homemakers by offering shoppers trendy products, sleek store layouts and a must-follow Instagram profile. Their newly renovated Soho store has tripled in size and features details that millennials look for in a retail space; including a cool in-store café. The store also allows shoppers to scan QR codes with their smartphone and make the purchase instantly online, or they can make use of the in-store tablets to browse online products and check out the brand’s Instagram feed for inspiration. Made.com’s new store comes after news that IKEA are trialling furniture to rent, shaking up the marketplace for the home category. Their concept shows us they will continue to satisfy consumers of the future through their marketing and by incorporating technological elements to enhance their customers’ journey.
Some UK fashion retailers are coming under scrutiny for failing to properly engage in initiatives to tackle social and environmental issues. In total 16 fashion retailers were evaluated to see whether they were engaged and taking action to promote environmental sustainability and protect their workers. Brands such as Boohoo, JD Sports, Missguided and Sports Direct have come under scrutiny for being “less engaged” with industry initiatives and need to do more to put energy and resources into reducing their environmental impact. The government is now beginning to hold fashion brands accountable for their actions, especially as more fast fashion brands are catching the shoppers' eyes; giving us a reminder that fashion retailers have a responsibility to minimise their environmental footprint and ensure workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage.
Beauty brand, Clinique, have opened their first immersive pop-up and virtual reality experience. Shoppers begin their journey with a hi-tech consultation that identifies skin issues which might need some TLC, whether that be uneven skin tone, fatigue or skin irritation. Shoppers are then presented with a Clinique iD and follow a vivid colour-coded path which leads them to sample their recommended product based on their results. In the back of the store, shoppers will find a virtual reality experience used to transport them to world destinations. We love the idea of incorporating technology to discover skin imbalances, however, we find the in-store virtual reality experience is not in line with the rest of the store. While it’s great to see Clinique using more technology to create an experience, we think it would be more effective if it was used to directly improve customer journey.
MAC Cosmetics becomes the latest retailer to open a concept store; this time in Shanghai, China. The store aim is to bring together product discovery, social engagement and technology through an interactive store design, touchscreens and mobile interaction. While it may not be a new concept (Charlotte Tilbury’s virtual mirrors), the virtual makeup mirror allows shoppers to sample 18 lipstick colours in 30 seconds. The second floor of the store is an open space used for masterclasses and influencer events, allowing them to create their own events and content. MAC understands what the future of the beauty retail space looks like by having meaningful technology in their store and using influencers to drive engagement with their customers.
Budget blow-dries, manicures and eyebrow shaping are coming to Primark stores in London and Birmingham. Blow dry bar, Duck & Dry, will be bringing express in-store beauty experiences to fast-fashion consumers and the price of treatments will be suitably purse-friendly for Primark’s target demographic. Primark continues to bring new and exciting ventures to their beauty department including cruelty-free products and collaborations with beauty experts, all at a competitive price.
Would you visit a completely empty store? Well, Snapchat and Lego’s boutique store is actually that. The store's only feature is a Snapchat AR code for shoppers to scan and become immersed in the world of Lego’s augmented reality. From there they are able to order clothes, play with the interactive DJ booth and an arcade machine as well as view exclusive products modelled on Lego mannequins. The Snapchat and Lego store is a place where a digital and physical retail space collides making it completely different to anything else on the high street. It’s interesting to see such a traditional brand like Lego paving the way and using technology to keep its brand fresh and appealing to shoppers.
John Lewis continue their journey in reinventing the retail space through their JLab start-up programme. The retailer has selected six start-ups that will transform the way customers shop. The start-ups include SeloyLive, who transform shop windows into huge interactive displays; Orrient, who activate store experience through smartphone technology; and MemoMi, who enable customers to virtually try on fashion and beauty products. It’s no secret that department stores such as House of Fraser and Debenhams are struggling to get shoppers through the door, while John Lewis stay ahead of the game. The JLab programme is just one of the ways the retailer is achieving this.
Those who prefer to go in-store to 'try before they buy' could be tempted by Amazon’s potential new app. The app could allow shoppers to virtually try on products by building a realistic likeness of each individual based on existing images. Users of the app will also receive clothing suggestions based on events on their personal calendar or based on weather activity and suggest hand-picked products. If successful, the patent will transform the way we shop online and gives us a peak into what the future of retail could look like.
As Samsung celebrated the ten year anniversary of its Galaxy line, the tech retailer has announced that it's set to open three Samsung Experience Stores in California, New York and Texas. Beyond purchasing and repair services, the new stores will contain gaming lounges and Samsung’s 4D VR theatres. In the past Samsung have relied on partners and retailers to push its device to consumers, but these new stores will actually have products for shoppers to purchase. This move allows Samsung to have more of a direct link to its customers and engage with them on a deeper level.
Lidl have launched national wide “fun-size” trolleys to make grocery shopping more fun and engaging for kids. The trolleys are named after Lidl’s mini versions of ordinary fruit and vegetables to encourage kids to eat their five a day. By getting the little ones involved in grocery shopping, Lidl hopes to get them to think about healthy eating. While the concept isn’t entirely new, it’s great to see more retailers taking into consideration young children who may be accompanying their parents. The campaign makes every day tasks seem fun while providing an opportunity to educate them about what they are putting into their bodies.
Research shows that more than 30 million adults could be using an app to order groceries by 2022. Since many find it difficult to find the time to do their grocery shopping, they are beginning to turn to ordering online or on their smartphones, highlighting the impact mobile shopping will have in future and why supermarkets need to take it into consideration now. Retailers will need to ensure their mobile sites are ready for this massive shift by enabling customers to easily find products, take into consideration the smaller screen size and smaller product images.
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