Trends in retail

Author: Catherine Marsden
Front page of Retail Trends Autumn 2016 publication

Trends in retail

Providing the shopper with a new experience

October is a busy month with seasonal events such as Halloween, and of course retailers are beginning to prepare themselves for Christmas, there’s some interesting POS out there to catch shoppers’ attention.

Interactive mirrors

Jenners department stores in Edinburgh, U.K. have introduced virtual mirrors, allowing shoppers to still try clothes on in the normal way, but use digital technology to enhance the shopping experience. Shoppers who try clothes on can then use the built-in screen to take a photo of the outfit and email themselves, or share the image on social media to get friends’ opinions. The mirror can also perform a service similar to a personal shopper as technology inside the mirror recognizes the items taken into the fitting room, and can then suggest complementary accessories and styling advice. This helps give customers the confidence to try new styles, and make additional purchases.

Men-only beauty salon

The beauty business is booming, with more and more women treating themselves to spa days, manicures and pedicures. Now a Los Angeles-based salon is set to give men the same experience.

Hammer & Nails is a male-only nail salon, offering men a relaxing experience of treatments while seated on large leather sofas, watching personal TVs with headphones -- complete with a selection of popular sports channels -- and enjoying complimentary drinks of beer and scotch. Their mission is simple: to give men some pampering treatments, but in a truly male environment.

Experiential marketing

Microsoft promoted the launch of its Surface 2 tablet in October by installing a huge tablet in the middle of London's Trafalgar Square. The tablet displayed was 27 feet wide and 17 feet tall! It is a fully working model, where people can get on stage and get involved with content, such as math tests, by jumping on the oversized touch cover to enter their answers.

The Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro promise to be “the most productive tablets on the planet”, claiming to be faster than any other tablet on the market, with improved battery life, and full versions of Microsoft Office. However with some new Apple launches in the same period, Microsoft needed to work hard to grab customer attention.

Store experiences

It’s common knowledge now that retailers need to create experiences that online retail can’t replicate.

Customers want to “feel” an experience and to be entertained, and these examples show how stores don’t just exist for people to buy products, but are increasingly seen as a source of entertainment.

Disney has created child entertainment zones, where children can play in castles, select and view movie clips, and personalize products. This is not focused on “selling” as such, but creating an experience, which has resulted in sales uplifts. Harrods has also brought fun and imagination to its “toy kingdom” with movement (floors rumble), smell (fragranced areas) and sounds for an enchanting environment.

As more customers bank online, some banks have brought innovation to their retail space, such as BNP Paribas with their first-ever concept bank in Paris. It features a modern layout with bright furniture, mirrored ceilings, and comfortable seating areas. They also now offer weekly lunchtime workshops, a play area for kids, and an exhibition space.

Augmented reality

Asda launched a fun in-store Halloween campaign, with an activity including an augmented reality treasure hunt and funfair-style ”grabber” machines, which spring to life from point-of-sale around Asda stores for those who downloaded the retailer's free app.

A shopkeeper dubbed “Sir Spook” will guide people around the store on a “haunted hunt”, with riddles to be solved, and items scanned in order to tick off a virtual shopping list. Those who successfully find all the items will get a free gift in-store as well as the chance to win £100.

Combined with some a fun Halloween aisle of costumes, supporting POS, and events such as pumpkin carving, Asda cafe parties, and a “draw a spooky character” competition, they are providing a strong family environment.

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