Savills Blog - In Store Revival

In-store Revival

Satellites, wireless communications, smartphones and the Internet among countless technological innovations and digital revolutions have fundamentally reordered the way we live.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for some old-fashioned throwback maggot therapy in state-of-the-art hospitals.

Despite the perceived trouble the retail sector has faced in the past few years, the sky is far from falling. Online retailing is not competition for bricks-and-mortar stores but a complementary element that can be a plus for shoppers and retailers alike. Very likely, the more consumers do research online, the more it drives them into physical shops.

‘Experience’ has become the buzzword for many industries in the digital age. Major international hotel brands now offer a range of products, including limited facility hotels that make up the difference in service and knowledge, designed to enhance guests’ stays. Established fashion brands, both luxury and mass market labels — Vivienne Westwood, Gucci, Muji — have branched out globally into the food and beverage sector, vital in dining out-mad Asia, and they’re not alone. Struggling against the likes of iTunes and Spotify, HMV now boasts a café, high-end audio gear and pop culture memorabilia along with CDs (which you can sample more of in-store) and Blu-ray discs.

The gold standard, though, might be Eslite, a bookstore that has transformed itself into a social hub and comprehensive lifestyle destination where shoppers can pick up everything from scented candles and exotic candy to stationery and, of course, books and magazines, and then sit down in-store for a leisurely read with a cup of specialty Taiwanese tea.

Read more: Online Shopping Offline

Eslite can offer this experience because their stores occupy thousands of square feet.  With space at a premium (and rents only increasing) a large area with room to browse, mingle, and socialise is very hard to find in densely packed cities in Asia.  Eslite has cleverly crafted their brand image around their ability to offer a full shopping experience.  There may only be a few superstores like Eslite in any given city, but they are increasingly flagships and anchor tenants in malls.

Branding is ultimately what it’s all about. Loyalty is something all brands aspire to and one of the hardest things to achieve. Visibility is a key element of branding, and bricks-and-mortar shops are an essential part of that; a brand is ‘gone’ when a browser closes. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ as the saying goes.  But, when shoppers see a brand regularly — passing a store on the way home or ducking through a mall on the way to work — it becomes a familiar brand worth investigating.

Read more: E-tailing: credible threat or real opportunity?

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Experience for customers is the key for Eslite

 

Early research has indicated that post-millennials, or Generation Z as they are referred to in some circles, have already demonstrated a push-back on purely digital experiences — hence Eslite’s embrace of pen and paper. Picking up the latest novel by a favourite author is fine, but data hints at future consumers demanding a more personalised service, from knowledgeable staff to a chance to get the right size trousers the first time, much less finding out if the material is scratchy.

Read more: How technology disruption can help traditional retailers

 

"But perhaps most importantly, the physical store can offer something that e-commerce cannot: a human touch."

Scores of shoppers have already learnt how to take advantage of the online-offline relationship, and brands and retailers have reaped the benefits of investing in customer experience and added services like click-and-collect. Quite the contrary, e-commerce isn’t a negative force for retailers, and it certainly doesn’t represent competition. A brand’s online presence is an ideal complement to its physical stores — and vice versa — that keeps existing customers in the loop and serves as an introduction to new ones. It’s simply the next step in the in-store renaissance, itself a revolution.

Our retail team is always ready to go online and offline for you.  Please contact us.