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Brits want to experience retail tech on the High Street

More than half of Brits (54%) would like to experience new retail technology when shopping on the High Street, though exact preferences appear to be different between men and women.

According to research from Outform, the in-store retail tech men most want to use while out shopping are tablets and touchscreens (30%), on account of those devices enabling them to find out more about product functionality, which 23% said they’d like to try voice-enabled interactive experiences in stores.

50% of women also admit that they’re keen to improve their shopping experience with the latest tech.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults also found that UK shoppers still prefer to buy in-store than online: 55% prefer to get their white goods on the high street, 66% prefer it for clothes and 72% for furniture.

In addition, 56% still prefer to shop in-store for consumer technology like phones, TVs and laptops – while 84% prefer physical stores for their food shopping and 75% for buying cosmetics.

Simon Hathaway, managing director of Outform EMEA, said: “The UK high street has been feeling the pressure of online competition and so has upped its game. The elements that have always differentiated physical stores from e-commerce, like personal service and the ability to talk to another human – still remain.

“But now, stores are bringing in new technology like virtual reality, augmented reality and touchscreen functionality to make it even better. Retail has become experiential and shoppers are responding positively.”

The top five reasons respondents prefer in-store shopping are:

  • I can ask for information
  • The in-store promotions and discounts
  • The choice of products
  • It’s a more pleasurable experience
  • Personal customer service.

The top ten retailers for in-store experience are:

  1. Tesco
  2. Asda
  3. Sainsbury’s
  4. Boots
  5. Marks and Spencer
  6. Superdrug
  7. IKEA
  8. Argos
  9. Currys PC World
  10. John Lewis
Shopping Mall

Retailers & consumers disconnected on in-store experiences

Retailers are letting down customer expectations, according to research conducted with over 15,000 respondents by Oracle Retail. 

The data revealed that retailers and consumers disagree on many aspects of retail, with the survey finding that although 57 percent of retailers thought that returning items was ‘very easy,’ the same share of consumers thought that returning products was a ‘complete hassle,’ or could be made much easier.

Retailers and consumers were also divided as to what they each thought was the most important in-store experience, with more than half (56 percent) of consumers rating convenience, such as having their size in stock, as the top priority, while only 34 percent of retailers noted it as such. 

Consumers also rank discovery, as in space to experiment and try new products (36 percent) and expert advice (22 percent) as important when shopping in-store. This was much higher than retailers who indicated these attributes at merely 18 and six percent, respectively. 

Retailers thought that faster shipping of goods was a priority to consumer needs, and while consumers agreed, they also were open to different ways their order could arrive as long as the delivery is fast and cheap. Ninety-two percent of consumers said they would like/love “free one-day delivery by whatever means is most expedient – drone, driverless car, messenger, etc.”

“Consumer expectations are perpetually in flux, with each positive experience setting a new bar for success in retail,” said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Retail. 

“No matter if they’re enjoying the convenience of ridesharing, browsing through a seamless in-app experience or walking into a brick-and-mortar storefront, customers expect the same calibre of service in all interactions, upping the stakes for retailers as they compete with rival brands and new business models.”

The whole report can be read here: http://oracle.com/goto/settingthebar

PUMA debuts Skill Cube at flagship NYC store

German athletic brand PUMA has opened the doors on its latest flagship store on 5th Avenue,  New York, and unveiled an industry-first multi-sport, multi-sensory Skill Cube.

The cube is designed with the intention of giving retailers to the store the ability to virtually train with a host of top athletes, including Lewis Hamilton, Antoine Griezmann and Romelu Lukaku. 

This new approach by PUMA is the result of behavioural research into the brands target audience; Gen Z. Football superstars Griezmann and Lukaku host full coaching sessions, giving the user the option to choose a stadium or disused warehouse to experience the session while trying out the brand’s latest footwear in store. 

Jason Isenberg, Global Head of Commercial Marketing at PUMA, said: “Facilitating unique and immersive experiences is central to our long-term commercial strategy and the Skill Cube New York delivers on this in every way. This is truly a one of a kind experience and we are confident that our shoppers in the NYC Store will find it extremely engaging and compelling.”  

Once inside the Skill Cube, visitors are immersed in a multi-sensory environment incorporating 270° floor to ceiling LCD content screens, graphic projection, motion sensing devices, dynamic lighting and surround sound. The floor covering is a high-quality, multi-sport, synthetic turf, designed to bring the footwear benefits to the fore by simulating authentic trial conditions, that further enhance a life-like experience.

Visitors are scored on their performance and at the end of the experience, the stadium comes alive with confetti canons, fireworks, and a cheering crowd. The Training experience transports participants into a warehouse to train with Lewis Hamilton, who takes them through three trials; ladder, jab and jump, going head-to-head with their idols to develop their skills to be forever faster.  

Martyn Palmer, Digital Experience Director, added: “Our approach was to encourage engagement and disrupt ‘autopilot customer’ browsing, by introducing a highly curated approach to the experience zone, we have succeeded in creating a harmonious customer journey that mixes physical and digital interactions to elevate a positive product experience.” 

In both experiences, the data captured, pulls their position through to a digital leader-board housed on a large screen within the waiting area. Post-experience, everyone who takes part in the trial will receive a personalised email and SMS message for social sharing.

Skill Cube was designed and developed by human experience design studio, Green Room.

PUMA – Immersive Digital Experience Skill Cube, 5th Avenue flagship store from Green Room on Vimeo.

Seven Dials pop-up offering brands a ‘creative playground’

Creative studio Made Thought have launched a concept store in London’s Seven Dials that it says gives brands a new platform to explore the future of retail and brand experience.

The 3-month pop-up is a ‘creative playground’ where brands can experiment with new collaborations and cultural programming to decode what retail and consumer desire means today.

The store will host activations and installations from Fred Perry, Tom Dixon, Ableton, G.F Smith, True & Co, Naim Audio, Wildsmith Skin, Imprimerie Du Marais, Heckfield Place, PINK and many more.

Made Thought are also displaying their archive of work from the past decade in a ‘living portfolio’, featuring projects for Design Miami, MoMA, Stella McCartney and more.

The multi-faceted programme of launches, events and experience-based retail concepts includes:

  • An installation recreating Norwegian songwriter Farao’s music studio as an installation by music production brand Ableton: plus a live performance giving visitors the opportunity to connect, collaborate and interact with Ableton Live and Push within an inspiring environment (16th – 29th October).
  • The launch of the AW19 Fred Perry x Made Thought exclusive collection: Made Thought and Fred Perry collaborate on a capsule collection which decodes the brand’s 5:4:4 tipping ratio, building an artistic and symbolic language that is a new perspective for the brand. (29th October – 14th November)
  • A contemporary, all-female dance performance: celebrating the re-brand of underwear label True&Co with a choreographed immersive performance (6th November)
  • A soundscape and immersive environment with Naim Audio: the audio brand and Made Thought curate an emotive sonic experience showcasing Naim’s audio technology.
  • An autumnal equinox inspired installation and ‘biodynamic living’ workshop: hosted by prestige natural and sustainable skincare brand Wildsmith and the luxury eco-hotel Heckfield Place.
  • A series of talks centred around circular design as the solution to sustainability issues: with thought leaders and activists in this arena including Sian Sutherland of A Plastic Planet.

Ben Parker, Creative Director and Founding Partner of Made Thought, said: “So much of our creative work for brands is concerned with how to cultivate consumer desire and how to humanise brand experiences, particularly in a retail environment. We’ve brought all of this creative thinking and experience together in the Made Thought pop-up store to give brands a platform to interrogate what brand experience means today, as well as the deepening intersection of culture and commerce.”

As well as the events and installation programme, visitors can also shop the Made Thoughts’ limited edition lifestyle collection designed by the agency exclusively for the store. All of the products, ranging from sweatshirts, tees and candles to G.F Smith notebooks, are carbon neutral and sustainably made from responsible materials in the UK.

Paul Austin, Director and Founding Partner of Made Thought, added: “We hope that exploring and experimenting with such diverse brands, retail concepts and ideas in one dynamic space will inspire other brands to push what they offer consumers in their retail offerings and lead to wider creative conversations about the power and opportunities of creative collaborations and programming in retail today.”

The store is located at 27 Shorts Gardens, London WC2H 9AP, and is open until November 30th.

Pizza Express debuts late-night DJ residency at Oxford Street site

PizzaExpress has launched a late-night in-restaurant DJ residency at its Langham Place, Oxford Circus pizzeria and bar, extending its experiential offering in the capital.

Paul Weller’s daughter Leah will be hosting the residency every first Thursday of the month.

The chain says its ‘Langham Lates’ nights have been launched to celebrate the newly-opened venue, and build on the existing PizzaExpress: Live venues, which include its jazz club venue in Dean Street in Soho, along with The Pheasantry in Chelsea and pizzerias in Maidstone and Birmingham.

And it turns out the approach isn’t a new idea – the pizzeria chain has a long musical heritage, hosting its first ticketed show back in 1976.

It now presents more than 2,000 shows each year across its venues, with acts such as Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, Van Morrison and the late Amy Winehouse having taken to the stage.

The first ‘Langham Lates’ DJ residency was kicked off this month with Leah Weller delivering a three-hour set, joined on the evening by her chart-topping mother – British Soul, R&B and pop singer of Wham! fame, Dee C Lee.

The ‘Langham Lates’ residency will be running for six months on every first Thursday, from 7.30pm ‘til late.