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With e-commerce growing in sales and popularity on a global basis, retailers are forced to ask, “What is the role of the store?” The quick answer is that it can no longer just be an efficient place to buy commoditized products. Stores are social gathering places, centers for knowledge, learning and information, a place for fun, or relaxation. They are the ultimate showcases for merchandise, exciting customers with possibilities. They are motivators to love better, eat better or beautify one’s home. In short, experiential stores are wondrous places that can deliver experiences in a way that a website can’t.

Let’s take a look at two retailers who have boldly answered the question of how a store can thrive in an online world.

Sport Chek (Toronto-Canada)

Sport Chek Canada opened its first digital-focused retail lab in 2013. The success of its first flagship store led to the launch of a second new 80,000 sq. ft. store in West Edmonton Mall that opened last month.

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The store is a digital mecca with 140 screens, ranging from small tablets in tables to larger 55 inch screens that demonstrate unique product features. Customers can scan for coupons using NFC and interact with, for example, Adidas-created content such as its Twitter feed and product features through touch-screen technology.

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It is interesting how Sport Chek integrated technology into its concept and used it to enhance the customers’ shopping experience by creating confidence in Sport Chek’s ability to provide a customized product. Sports fans can create their own personalized team jersey with team and player names and numbers of their choosing. Other customization tools include a “build your own” Reebok shoe kiosk, a Sidas ski and snowboard boot insert tool that makes a 3D map of your foot to create a custom-made boot insert, customized Oakley sunglasses, and customer’s running gaits can be analyzed on a treadmill.

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Next to the store’s escalator is a wall of 19 screens with an Xbox Kinect that displays promotions, events, and product features. There is even a community events wall featuring a local lawyers’ pick-up hockey league and, of course, the latest NBA scores.

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Planet Traveller (Singapore)

A one-stop shop for travellers seeking travel products. Planet Traveller designs, produces, sources and markets a wide range of innovative travel products for one’s travelling needs.

pic 1Aptly located in the Singapore Changi Airport, the Planet Traveller Flagship Store inhabits an impressive 13,024 sq. ft. of retail space, spanning more than 33 meters long. Occupying both sides of the airport’s walking retail path, the lack of glass doors to designate its shopping space ensures that all shoppers walking through are immersed into Planet Traveller’s creative interior and retail offerings.  Being the first of its kind lifestyle travel accessories concept store and claiming to be the largest in Asia, Planet Traveller’s Flagship Store is indeed the market leader in the industry.

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Offering over 4,000 travel accessories and appliances, the store has 16 distinct merchandising zones including travel gear, business bags, lifestyle bags, female travel, junior travel, travel tips, travel books and maps, outdoor gear, winter wear, travel warmies, travel accessories and appliances, travel security and organizers, travel care, IT/mobile accessories and travel gifts.  These zones segment its expansive offerings and makes shopping a breeze for consumers. Creative visual displays set amidst a black ceiling, blue flooring and navy blue furniture draw inspiration from the universe and sky as a medium of travel.

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With many travel accessories retailers competing in the same space, Planet Travellers’ distinguishes itself from other competitors by transforming itself into a lifestyle concept.

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With an offering so unique and distinctive, it is top-of-mind for consumers when it comes to travel accessories retailers.  Its great location at the Singapore Changi Airport further emphasizes Planet Traveller’s connection with travel.

Conclusion

Whether it is through mind-blowing technology, customization, or eye-catching merchandise displays, the idea here is to provide a compelling reason for people to visit your store. Consumers constantly on-the-go can easily be persuaded by the time and cost saving benefits of buying online. To win them over, retailers need to provide customers with an exceptional experience that will not only amaze them but entice them to return again and again.

About Retail Innovations 9

RI9 - imageRetail lnnovations 9 is J.C. Williams Group’s and Ebeltoft Group’s (www.ebeltoftgroup.com) latest compilation of leading edge innovation, highlighting individual ideas and the key themes that emerge from studying the whole.

This edition features 54 of the best innovation cases from 23 countries and pinpoints the nine global innovation trends.

To obtain a copy of this publication, send an email with your name, company name, and telephone number to info@jcwg.com.

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