I don't know if you noticed but malls, physical shops and department stores are slowly dying.
The first cause is the obvious: online shopping. With the click of a button, we can buy what we need (or want), get quick shipping and even process free returns with most companies.
As popular as shopping online may seem, it also isn't perfect. It misses a lot of the human touch that brick & mortars have consistenly boasted, whether it be trying on clothing or interacting with staff.
So why are these physical shop locations still hurting?
I want to walk you through an experience.
Picture yourself walking into a local boutique. You're greeted through different senses like sound and smell. A catchy playlist of artists you hope to discover. A airy citrus scent.
There's a workshop happening in the back of the shop giving you a sense of community and everything you can buy in this shop is styled in multiple ways, intricately presented, seems like a one of a kind purchase. There's information about each item, on where it was designed or a bio on the designer.
You look around and realize that this experience is immersive. It's a different way to shop and get inspired.
Most malls, department stores and the online world haven't fully mastered this experiential component to the shopping experience.
When shopping online it can be a very fabricated experience that is only surface level.
For physical shops, most aren't immersive, don't build a sense of community and aren't inspiring to shop in.
Here are 3 ways the traditional shopping experience is changing:
1. Meetups, workshops and events will be integrated into stores.
Integrating these into shops will bring a sense of community to shops. This is not only a time to meet new people who share the same interests as you, but also to connect to staff or employees who bring a human face to the brand. Someone's experience through these group gatherings will leave a lasting impression on the brand and create loyalty.
2. Store layouts and visual merchandising will be more prominent.
Sites like Pinterest or social media like Instagram as so popular because people are constantly seeking inspiration. The online world is able to provide inspiration through lookbooks or modeled photographs but in physical shops mannequins aren't really doing their job anymore. Stores will soon have to innovate on what "visual merchandising" has traditionally been. This is a huge area of opportunity to make the experience more immersive and inspirational all while shopping in a physical store.
3. The human touch of customer service will be elevated.
When you have an inspired staff, it can be infectious to the shoppers. It will no longer just be about greeting an individual when they walk in. It will instead be about how they provide knowledge, additional inspiration and a level or customer service that could leave that lasting impression. This is something a computer will never get right. A person to person interaction can be much more powerful than words on a screen.
As Maya Angelou said:
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Just as traditional brick & mortar and online shops may want to change their game, I also hope to make it clear that this project is more than just an online experience. We want to build a community.
Hope to see you Saturday at our meetup.