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The future of retail?

Emma T - 15 th November 2019

Retailers needs to remember is that us customers are not just comparing them to other retail outlets but to all other experiences we are having. If we can pay for our meal at Wagamama's after we have left, be a fashion model on the cat-walk at Madame Tussauds or cuddle bunnies at our local farm – why can’t we have experiences like that when shopping?

Boots 'flagship' store

"Our new Covent Garden store starts a journey of reinventing Boots for the future,” said Sebastian James, Boots Managing Director

I know retail experts have reviewed this store very favourably – sight lines, access, aisle widths, signage, product placement, lighting, ambience etc. are all excellent and follow the rules of great retailing from what I understand.


I am not a retail expert but I am a shopper and an expert in customer experience, and I was very disappointed when I visited this ‘Boots of the future’ – It has nothing really different from an experience point of view and seems to be merely an improved version of a standard Boots outlet.

It is a nice store, maybe Sebastian is right and it is the start of their journey, I’m just not quite sure where they are heading.


Boots

Samsung 'not a shop'

Samsung KX was launched with great excitement – the future of retail. The website tells us… It’s not a shop. It’s a place you can #DoWhatYouCant

It is certainly an impressive space and one in which you are made to feel very comfortable just wandering around, having a coffee in the café, working at one of the desks or simply putting your feet up in a comfy chair looking out of the window, listening to music on a Samsung device, through Samsung headphones or even watching Some telly on a Samsung £70k TV.

They even run courses at their theatre/film area, mostly on getting the most out of Samsung devices but also random stuff like yoga classes!

Yet the claim that it is not a shop, does not quite hold true when littered around are glass cabinets with their products in with price labels clearly displayed. The very nice lady who showed us round was emphatic that there was no pressure to buy and then clearly pointed out to us two lots of ‘very popular’ headphones, what wasn’t clear was whether we could actually buy them there.

We left with empty hands

It was a great space and experience and well worth a visit, and even to work in for a bit if you are in the Kings Cross area. Light years away from Boots store but the future of retail?  We’ll see.


Samsung

 

Pets at Home Stockport

My third visit was to Pets and Home in Stockport with my niece who asked to go despite not even owning a pet.

It was great!

This was a complete mixture of a normal store and pet themed experience:
There was everything you need to buy for your small animal, fish, bird, reptile etc. All well displayed, priced and easily accessible alongside dogs playing at a ‘puppy party’, reptile and cat adoption areas, dog grooming salon and interesting information and demonstrations on pet nutrition and bedding, and of course lots of fluffy animals to coo over.

Added to this, the staff are clearly animal mad – not only is everyone you speak to able to offer you help and advice but their stories and those of their pets is shown for all customers to see as well as all the charity donations the company makes.

We left after 45 minutes with smiles on our faces, treats and toys and very nearly a pet rabbit!


Pets at Home

 

As well as being fit for the future, a company’s retail experience must also align behind its brand as this is the only true way to focus and differentiate it.

Boots’ purpose is ‘We help people across the world lead healthier and happier lives’. Apart from selling health and beauty products in the store I cannot see much more that aligns with this purpose. The experience is most definitely product rather than purpose led.

Samsung’s mission is ‘inspire the world with our innovative technologies, products and design that enrich people’s lives and contribute to social prosperity by creating a new future’. I can certainly see some inspiration with innovative technologies, products and design in this new concept. It is an amazing, well designed space in which to demonstrate its superb product range but, as with Boots, seems more product than brand led.

Pets at home aim to become ‘the best pet care company in the world’ and one of their strategies to achieve this is by ‘bringing the pet experience to life’.  They also have values such as ‘we put pets first’ and ‘we make it fun’ - all of these are well extremely demonstrated in the Stockport store.

In conclusion, the Pets at home concept certainly feels more like the future of retail, at least in the short term. The store mixes the ability to just pop in and easily stock up on pet essentials with education, fun, other services and a charitable purpose– making it a destination experience for animal lovers and not just a shop for pet owners.

It is also the most aligned to its brand, making it harder to be copied by the competition that the Boots or Samsung concepts.

A final point that retailers needs to remember is that us customers are not just comparing them to other retail outlets but to all other experiences we are having. If we can pay for our meal at Wagamama’s after we have left, be a fashion model on the catwalk at Madame Tussauds or cuddle bunnies at our local farm – why can’t we have experiences like that when shopping? But let’s not go too far. We still want to be able to buy something – don’t we?

Emma has had a very successful marketing career spanning a range of industries. This enables her to truly understand, and help overcome, the challenges her clients face in developing and operationalising winning brands.
Find out more about Emma T