Sociable Shopping Experiences

29. January 2018 / Phil Radcliffe / eCommerce

One of the important changes for retail in the last couple of years has been consumers shift in spending from buying stuff(we’ve all got lots of stuff) to spending on so-called leasure experiences(See more here on this from Deliotte). As online shopping has become faster, cheaper, and more convenient, traditional retailers have responded to this competitive threat by transforming bricks-and-mortar stores into destinations, giving shoppers more reasons to visit (and more things to spend their money on). Hello, Apple store.

What we’re now seeing is this “sociable shopping” trend coming back around – affecting the way online stores are conceived and designed.

The Bricks-and-Mortar Arms Race

To understand how far retailers are now willing to go, consider the turnaround strategy of Debenhams. The venerable British department store has been struggling to retain its traditional customer base.

The company has been partnering with Costa Coffee since 2014 to open cafes in many of its stores and spent over £25m to refurbish its flagship store in London’s Oxford Street. Now the company is taking it even further by testing a mix of in-store gyms and beauty bars. In an announcement last April, Debenhams’ CEO, Sergio Bucher, made clear the goal: make shopping easy and more fun.

Here’s another sign that boundaries between shopping and recreation are blurring: the new CEO of British retailer House of Fraser, Alex Williamson, comes to his position not from retail but from Goodwoods, a centuries old sporting estate with royal roots that provides facilities for horseracing, motor racing, golf, and other activities (see more info here). Clearly the board thought that understanding customer experiences in the wider sense had value.

The Effect on Digital

Retailers’ digital presences are evolving to be much more than just pure transactional shopping sites (more here). At CoreMedia, we’re seeing more requests from customers for functionality that allows them to build online experiences that do more than just facilitate a transaction. Brands and retailers want to tell customers about in-store services, integrate with appointment booking systems, and enhance their stores with long form content about services.

These are just a few of the inspirational, service-driven experiences we’re going to see more of in the future.

Image credit: Blow Ltd

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