Experts see innovation and pop-up stores

A client searching via secondhand garments at a pop-up swap occasion in Singapore.

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LONDON — The way forward for bodily stores has been known as into query by the coronavirus pandemic, however consultants consider the important thing to survival might be reinvention.

For a while now, retailers have tried to draw prospects by creating experiences in retailer, however they now must get artistic as buying habits change and prospects change into extra demanding.

Online buying has boomed because the begin of the pandemic. In the U.Okay. alone, web gross sales jumped from underneath 20% to greater than 32% in simply three months firstly of the primary Covid-induced lockdown. And consultants anticipate the comfort of shopping for on-line to imply customers will proceed this behavior even after the pandemic.

Meanwhile, nearly 50 stores closed each day within the U.Okay. in 2020, based on accountancy agency PwC.

Both developments present how essential it’s for retailers to get their bodily presence proper.

Kristina Rogers, client international chief at Ernest Young, instructed CNBC in March that there’s a “real redefinition” in how retailers use their bodily areas.

“It’s not just an exchange of goods anymore,” she mentioned, including that retailers have to grasp who their prospects are and what these need.

Customers browse clothes within the pop-up store Pangaia inside Selfridges division retailer in London on April 12, 2021 as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

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She highlighted how Target, one of many largest retailers within the U.S., has opted to have an even bigger area in its stores for Apple merchandise. This successfully permits prospects who’re focused on Apple gadgets to examine them out whereas purchasing for different issues in Target. It can be handy for present Apple customers who can merge two journeys into one.

“They’re recreating a ‘mini mall’ within their store,” she mentioned.

But not each retailer has such a big space to work with. In reality, some consultants consider that profitable stores of the long run is perhaps ones that, no matter dimension, hold providing new issues.

“Undoubtedly there will be less physical stores as we move forward,” Matt Clark, managing director at consulting agency AlixPartners instructed CNBC’s Street Signs Europe in March. “But the stores that remain will need to offer an even greater experience and an additional set of services, as well as just the ability to buy products.”

One approach for retailers to face out is by focusing extra on pop-up stores. These are areas which can be open briefly to indicate off a specific line or product, and have been gaining in reputation lately.

Stella McCartney retailer in Bond Street in November 2020.

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“One of the prime opportunities for pop-up shops are to create new opportunities for exploration. It’s not about a consumer going to a Ralph Lauren store that is the same today as it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago,” Alex Cohen, a business property skilled at Compass instructed CNBC.

Some big-name manufacturers have already seemed to pop-ups as a approach to entice extra prospects. Stella McCartney, the British dressmaker, is that includes completely different native companies in her flagship retailer on Old Bond Street, London, to rejoice the lifting of restrictions for retailers within the U.Okay. Guess, in the meantime, is about to open its first pop up retailer in Germany for Activewear.

Pop-up areas enable retailers to create one thing “really fresh” whereas saving on prices, Cohen mentioned.

“The brands, they have the opportunity to spend much less, to not having to commit themselves to a long-term contract, to spend less with modular installations and to do it very quickly,” he added.


In addition, this form of retailer boosts the thought of exclusivity — a sense more and more widespread for a lot of prospects.

“The whole idea of exclusivity is really important. The fact that a pop-up will expire … creates in the consumers kind of an excitement. ‘Wow, if I don’t check out this pop-up retail offering … in the next 3 months, it is going to go away, I will never be able to see it,'” he mentioned. This provides the form of pleasure lacking from many conventional stores.

So it’s not simply concerning the feeling of getting an unique product, but additionally an unique expertise. And this implies there are different methods for retailers to capitalize on this exclusivity pattern.

“In terms of exclusivity, a lot of the high street retailers are now requiring, either by appointment or actually when you arrive at a store, that you must be linked up to a sales person. You can’t browse and that — for better or worse — creates a feeling of exclusivity,” Cohen added.


Brands are additionally recognizing the rising significance of sustainability, each from a enterprise perspective and due to rising buyer consciousness.

And it isn’t simply coming via in additional “ethical” product traces, but additionally in what providers can be found at bodily stores.

At its flagship area in Stockholm, for example, H&M is providing providers to repair outdated garments and is hiring out a few of its outfits for particular events.

“The sustainability movement really highlights one of the core dichotomies that the fashion industry particularly is facing but broader retail is also facing,” Clark from AlixPartners mentioned.

“The value versus values debate: the need to be really, really clear on your sustainability credentials, ethical sourcing, etc but at the same time offering great value for money that doesn’t just mean cheapness but value for money to the consumers.”