“The two main themes in retail at the moment are click and collect and the customer experience, which are both part of the overall omni-channel focus in retail at the moment”. Oliver Tress CEO of Oliver Bonas.

The latest retail report, Retail Reinvented: Market Insights 2017, highlights the power of the in-store experience with its social, sensory and personal elements is unyielding, whatever online price wars are being fought. The blurring of channel boundaries has been further fuelled by click and collect; providing customers with the greater choice offered online together with the convenience of trying, feeling and buying in-store.

The introduction of the click and collect service has been hugely successful for many of the UK’s big retail brands, with 43% of consumers (and 52% of 21-35 year olds) agreeing that it means they now shop online. It has also been the catalyst for many independent retailers to review and invest in their software platforms to protect sales and retain customers.

The high street shop is certainly not dead and is a critical part of the shopping journey. Nearly half of consumers say they are more loyal to the brands they shop at in-store than they are online.

Pure e-commerce players are understanding more and more when it comes to satisfying customers, it all comes down to the fundamental need for help and exceptional experiences.

These traditional pure-play ecommerce retailers such as Missguided and Made.com are seizing and investing in this opportunity to provide ‘real world’ customer service by opening physical stores to enable the all-important ‘feel and experience’ part of the buying journey.

In fact, traditional pure e-commerce players are transforming and remoulding how they sell and operate for competitive advantage much quicker than traditional instore retailers.

Retail as a destination

The increasingly heightened consumer need for exceptional experiences is transforming many physical retailers and centres into destinations to attract the hospitality and leisure loving consumer of today by working together collaboratively for a collective experience.

Retail combined with leisure has the power to draw consumers in-store, even if they can buy items cheaper online. The success of Liverpool ONE is testament to this approach which blends everything from retail, hospitality, digital, convenience and experience, and nearly a decade since it opened its characteristics are being mirrored by individual retailers.

The Oasis relaunch of its flagship store on Tottenham Court Road, for example, tied the retail-hospitality knot more tightly, focusing on experience rather than produce with an in-house café-cum-cocktail bar and beauty salon, turning the retail experience into one of leisure.

5 key questions for in-store retailers:

  1. Are you giving consumers a compelling reason to visit your store?
  2. Are you rewarding your customers’ loyalty?
  3. Is an inefficient customer journey losing you sales?
  4. How could you use technology to improve the shopping experience?
  5. How frictionless is your shopping journey?

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