If you were to ask anybody about their thoughts on the current state of the great British high street, chances are their reaction would be the same across the board;
“The internet has decimated our high street…everyone buys online now…..all of the shops are closing……why would you need to go into a shop when you can have things delivered the next day online….”
The list goes on and on. But if we were to take a closer look, it’s that very thing that most physical retailers dread that is in fact driving our high streets forward, unveiling a revolution in how bricks and mortar retailers and our high streets present themselves and creating some exciting times ahead for both the retailers and the customers alike.
When e-commerce first began to take hold, websites were simple and the excitement of a new platform through which to purchase goods was sufficient for online retailers to maintain customer interest. But as websites became more sophisticated and design savvy, so did the way in which goods were presented to customers. We now see recommendations popping up as we browse retailer’s websites, with items specifically chosen for us based on our own personal tastes and interests.
The need to personalise the customer experience is quickly beginning to filter into the physical world of retail, where shoppers can buy products customised especially for them, in a space that has been designed specifically with them in mind. This highly curated level of personalisation goes beyond simply giving the customer what they want, it helps to forge a close and long-lasting bond between the customer and the brand and creates much needed added value to the overall experience.
Many would argue that personalising your in-store design to suit your target demographic is a costly exercise, but the investment itself is far outweighed by the benefits it will bring to your bricks and mortar business. Customers are prepared to pay more and wait longer for customised goods as their getting a unique and exclusive item. By staying in store for extended periods of time, this presents the perfect opportunity to dazzle them with your in-store design, tailored especially to them. And the longer they stay, the more likely they are to purchase additional items, but more importantly, to return in the future.
The Cambridge Satchel Company designed its second Covent Garden store specifically with men in mind (see featured image). By creating a quirky environment, the shops three spaces -The Front Room, The Reception and The Conservatory, is blending curiosity shop, homely library and gentleman’s club.
Telling the story of its quintessentially British products, the leather working and making of the bags is key to the design with museum style cabinets being used where customers can touch and engage. A key feature is the embossing station, where shoppers can have their bags personalised. Stylish chesterfield sofas make the wait comfortable, with quirky pieces, like an up-cycled grandfather clock and mischievous monkey lights, interspersed with wall to wall satchels keeping customers entertained whilst they wait.
As humans, we’re naturally drawn to entertaining or intriguing situations and spaces. The introduction of technology to the in-store design can enable even the simplest of shops to become a playground for all who enter, providing a personalised touch, that can be changed and updated at the flick of a switch, to reflect your latest products and changing store design.
Key annual events in the retailer’s calendar such as Christmas are a fantastic opportunity to utilise technology and turn up the personalisation of your store, tied in perfectly to the products you have on offer. Most annual events bring about a store refresh to reflect the particular season and engage with shoppers. With the aid of video or
Hand in hand with your customised space and product offering is the customer data derived from this. For any bricks and mortar retailer, this is your key to unlocking potential future growth by understanding consumer trends and buying habits. Going beyond the stock items you have on your shelves, by gathering information on the customised products you offer, you can understand your customers in ways that your competitors can’t. This can then be used to inform the way in which you design your store’s interior to reflect the specific nature of your core customers, and the key events that surround their lives.
Ultimately, the personalisation of your bricks and mortar shop will help to create a narrative to your customers which lends meaning, involvement and reassurance to their lives. By creating a world that supports and celebrates your products, your brand and continued presence on the high street is strengthened which is a vital component to the survival of all retailers in today’s climate.
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