ZEITGUIDE TO SHOPPING EXPERIENCES
For those of us who like to do our holiday gift-buying with eggnog and a laptop, the ease of online shopping is great news. And like we told you last week, it’s been magnificent for Amazon’s market share.
So how are traditional retailers responding?
Walmart bought Jet.com this year and is opening robot-staffed warehouses to compete with Amazon’s product-sorting technology. Toys “R” Us and Target are among those utilizing their physical stores as distribution centers for their e-commerce sales. That reduces the risk that the store will run out of a hot toy since the overstock is on-site. At the same time, because most people live closer to a store than a warehouse, shipping e-commerce orders is faster and cheaper.
Retailers are also working to get the edge on Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery with click-and-collect services: order online then pick it up at the store same-day.
Yet even with all its offered convenience, there are elements of buying in person that online shopping can’t match. And stores are getting even more competitive in making the in store experience more of, well, an experience.
To ZEITGUIDE friend Pam Kaufman, Nickelodeon CMO & president of consumer products, toy stores in particular should evolve into family fun destinations. Think virtual reality parties with movie characters, augmented reality or interactive mobile games in the store, or customized 3D printed toys.
For the big kids, this means trying out a new pair of basketball shoes in a virtual pickup game, as shoppers at Nike Soho can now do. Some grocery stores have even turned to offering yoga or spa treatments. And for those who take their relaxation in liquid form, there’s even grocery stores where you can enjoy a beer while you shop.
“Stores have to provide two things—delight and efficacy,” ZEITGUIDE friend and Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp told us. In Birchbox’s New York shop, everything from the layout of the products to the approach of salespeople extends the ethos of its subscription service. Shoppers can explore and discover new beauty and grooming products in a way that is both personalized and makes shoppers feel like members of a club.
This community-space approach has also been a focus for Apple stores under the direction of former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts. “We want to be more like a town square,” Ahrendts told Fortune, “where the best of Apple comes together and everyone is welcome.”
Now if Apple could just do something about the eggnog situation.