Smart and By-heart Shopping

Monday 19 June 2017

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Smart and By-heart Shopping

For architects, the greatest challenge of our time is putting physical stores back on the map. The physical store is not dead - and never was - but it has been given a new role. After several troubled years, the era of ‘and-and’ appears to have dawned. The retail sector is opting for both the digital and the physical. The traditional retailer uses the digital world in its marketing strategy, and the digital retail sector also recognises the importance of having a presence in the shopping district.

‘Smart’ and ‘by-heart’
The consumer has found a new balance between ‘smart shopping’ on the internet and ‘by-heart shopping’ on the high street. He wants both: as one product lends itself well to online purchasing, while the other does not. Consumers mainly buy basic commodities with little emotional value on the internet. Here, price plays a decisive role. For products with more emotional value, we prefer to be tempted into physical stores. We want to see, smell and feel what we buy. Price is less important; it is the sensory experience that gives us the push that makes us decide to buy.

The need for a ‘home’
There is therefore belief again in the power of being visible in the built environment. A brand cannot only live in the virtual world; it needs a ‘home’ on the high street; a place customers can visit without any obligation, as well as a place where they can feel part of the brand. For the ‘shopper by heart’ the experience of the (store) brand is essential. In the food retail sector, it is largely the products themselves that create that experience. The colours, smells and tastes of the ingredients have an immediate positive effect on the senses. In addition, consumers are curious about the origin of the product and about how to prepare it in the most delicious way. Kitchens, chefs, inspiring recipes and workshops; food is experience.

Non-food products can also have a sensory appeal. You can touch them, feel the material, measure them, try them on - and of course share them. The experience is also influenced by the atmosphere in the store, the service provided, and the other visitors and customers. Customers ask: Is this my world? Is this something I want to be a part of? The promise may be greater than the customer himself, so that he has a sense of belonging, and the courage to take a step further. Being seen in the store, being part of it - this is difficult to achieve on the internet.

Coming home with a story
After visiting the store, you want to come home with a story, one about something special that you experienced, the unique environment in which it took place or the personal service you received. That reflects on you: you found it, you discovered this treasure, opened it and recognised it was special, and that is something you want to share, at home or with friends.

How to create an ‘experience’:

  • Dare to be yourself (Be different, be yourself). What does the brand stand for? What is the brand going for? The backbone of your brand should call out from the shop floor. Dare to exaggerate, but stay close to who you really are. Don’t sell a story you don’t fully support and that you cannot deliver. Customers will realise this in no time and it will cost you your credibility.
  • Make it sensory. It’s quite logical really: a physical store will always stimulate the senses to a certain extent. But you can take being ‘sensory’ a step further. Customers are accustomed to a lot; the world around us is constantly changing, literally! While we would have felt sick watching a fast-moving video clip just a decade ago, today we find that same video boring. We watch TV, use apps, play games and have conversations, all at the same time. Our senses have become accustomed to it.
  • Tell your story. This is your identity, this is what makes your brand unique and visitors should at least be able to take home the brand story. And no, not just a flyer or brochure, but an impression of your brand. Whether or not that story is consistent with the customer’s expectations isn’t the most important part: the most important thing is that the story is clear. Maybe at another moment it's exactly what the customer is looking for.      
  • Be a flexible inspirer. The customer should see or experience something new during every visit, even if it’s only part of the total experience. That means you must make frequent changes, try out new ideas and have the courage to attempt new things - even if they’re not always successful. When it comes to flexible inspiration, examples include small events in store: a temporary coffee bar, a meet & greet with a famous person, or a partnership with a retailer from another industry. It can be anything, as long as it supports your brand story and generates dynamic store visits. 
  • Provide a wow factor. At least one aspect of your store should linger, surprise and underline the uniqueness of your brand. That could be design, music or smell, but you can even create a wow factor with light; new techniques make it possible to easily change and adapt colours to match the feeling of the day. Absence can also make a store special, e.g. minimalist design, only a few pieces of clothing, shoes or jewellery in an austere architectural environment.
  • Create a total design. This is more than just the right mix of materials, textures, colours and lighting. Instore communication, staff clothing and the range - including packaging - are also part of it. In total design, nothing is left to chance: the sum of all factors provides the right experience. Then, the routing, layout and sightlines determine how customers experience the space.

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JosDeVries The Retail Company BV
Safariweg 6-11
3605 MA Maarssen, P.O. Box 1194
NL-3600 BD Maarssen
The Netherlands
tel. : +31(0)346 - 563764
[email protected]

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