If you’ve ever shopped on a busy high street you will know how draining those shopping experiences can be. Most high street chains offer boring layouts, limited changing rooms and a lack of informative or engaging staff. It’s not surprising that more and more people every year choose to do their shopping online. In fact, many well-known chains have closed down as a result and for others, it’s now a daily struggle to maintain footfall.
However, there are a number of stores that are realising their potential with innovative in-store shopping experiences and are coming up with some unique and exhilarating ways to break the mould of the traditions bricks-and-mortar encounter.
This rise in so-called ‘experiential shopping’ is in part a reaction to the competitive growth of eCommerce. Here are a few examples of stores that are changing the game with in-store innovation…
One of the world’s leading luxury fashion brands Ralph Lauren, have been revolutionising the “trying-on experience” by incorporating touch-screen mirrors in the fitting rooms of one of their flagship stores. They are attempting to eradicate the annoying situation in which you have to leave the changing rooms if you require a different size or colour. What the end-to-end experience provides is real-time product stock levels, a live interaction with a sales representative where you can request the size or colour changes and it’s all done through technology within the mirror itself.
Some of the neatest of the available features however, are being able to fine tune the changing room lighting to suit your mood, as well as the auto-suggested items to help you complete your look based on what you are already trying on. This isn’t just a more engaging shopping experience but it also provides an excellent way for Ralph Lauren to cross-sell to the customer – items they wouldn’t normally consider in their in-store journey. The mirrors so far have been a success, with a reported 90% engagement rate which far higher than Ralph Lauren ever predicted, as well as the invaluable insightful data about their own in-store products; what is selling and what is not.
Waitrose is leading the pack in terms of the in-store supermarket experiences. Voted Britain’s favourite supermarket three years in a row by Which?, the main attraction for customers has been the MyWaitrose loyalty scheme which offers a free hot drink or newspaper to members, a very simple proposition but one that has definitely helped it stand above their competition. Other simple yet effective experiences including the Quick Check service which allows shoppers to scan goods through their mobile app as they put them in their trolley, speeds up the experience for the modern, inpatient shopper.
The store also differentiates itself with their click-and-collection service by allowing customers to pick up shopping without having to travel to one of their large stores. Instead they have temperature-controlled lockers that customers can access at a range of locations including train stations and petrol stations, taking away the annoyance of booking a one-hour slot. With these updates, it’s obvious to see that the supermarket is set on finding ways to entice shoppers back to its bricks-and-mortar stores. The competition have followed suit.
Fashion retailer Topshop has been setting a fine example of innovative shopping experiences long before it was the ‘cool thing’ to do for high street stores. One of their flagship offerings, the in-store personal shopping service, has been free of charge for a number of years now, a service many other stores have only just begun rolling out. They were also one of the first stores to provide experiential pop-ups such as hair and beauty services, which offer everything from ‘makeup makeovers’ or to brow shaping. They also incorporated food and beverage services, such as coffee shops and the famous Lola’s cupcakes.
One of their latest innovations is the launch of SPLASH!, which aims to utilise VR technology. They have turned a shop window at their famous Oxford street store into an interactive swimming pool with an exhilarating water slide. Customers can sit on an inflatable ring and take the 360-degree water slide whilst wearing a VR headset, and at the end of the ride customers can share their experience with their friends through social media.
These technology leading experiences are a prime example of how a store wants to offer more than their core offering, which for Topshop is fashion products. Instead a customer can leave the store delighted after being dazzled with these one of a kind and engaging in-store experiences.