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Prepare For The Future Of Shopping

The brick-and-mortar/e-commerce paradigm is shifting again. A number of formerly pure-play online retailers have taken physical space; Amazon’s San Diego grand opening was followed by Google’s first real-space store in Curry’s PC World at Tottenham Court Road. As retailers look to the internet to drive in-store sales, and to stores to drive online sales, here are three ways to get brands prepared for the future.

Mimic The 'Boss' Of Omnichannel Retailing

Hugo Boss

German fashion label Hugo Boss is definitely doing omnichannel retailing right. The company is teaming up with Uber to create “Boss On Demand,” a service to combine in-store and online shopping. It consists of three major services: Effortless Shopping, Impeccable Service and Inside Access.

Effortless Shopping aims to remove the friction of shopping. In partnership with UberCentral, which allows businesses to pay for customers’ rides, a car will pick up the client and deliver him to the appointment with a Hugo Boss stylist. The ability to answer emails from the backseat or simply take a breather for the 10-minute journey can be a lifesaver for busy people during the day—and it feels a bit like pampering. 

Hugo Boss will also use Uber for its rush service. Did you spill soup on your shirt at lunch? Hugo Boss can Uber you a new one within an hour. 

Boss On Demand takes Amazon’s PrimeNow concept to fashion. Using Shoprunner, Boss now offers free two-day shipping, and allows customers to designate a retail outlet to pick up alterations.

Impeccable Service allows customers to book appointments with specialists (from stylists to wedding experts) for an efficient in-store experience.

Customers appreciate the convenience and personalized service that omnichannel retailing provides. It also means better profits for brands, according to a recent report by ContactLab and Exane BNP Paribas. Those who shop in-store and online spend 50% more in a year than those who buy in bricks-and-mortar boutiques alone.

Make Your Store Feel Like Shopping At (A Way Nicer) Home

Apartment

Since buying an item is easy to do online, it is imperative for retailers to create an experience with their real estate to draw customers into the store. One way smart retailers are doing that is creating shops that look like chic city apartments. In the home-like setting, retailers are able to offer aspirational and tightly edited collections. Customers then can see firsthand how it feels to live with the object. If they’re taken with something, they can buy it on the spot, or buy it later online.

The lifestyle shop concept is fundamentally about storytelling: allowing customers' imaginations to take flight, to see themselves as they want to be. 

Furniture-maker Swoon recently opened its doors in a Victorian apartment near London’s Borough Market. Swoon’s mission is to produce limited edition pieces without the outrageous mark-up that so many furniture stores charge. Swoon’s shop displays only a small number of curated pieces and a stylist is on hand to create the look shoppers are searching for. The pieces can also be bought online.

Conceptual design studio The Apartment Copenhagen added a retail arm to its design practice in a restored 18th century apartment in Copenhagen’s Old Town. The space aims to create a unique platform for exceptional decorative arts and design (including handpicked vintage furniture)—and a forum for discussion about art and design. Founder Tina Seidenfaden Busck also hosts events and private dinners.

Never Stop Shopping

Shopping in London

Customers are never not shopping. In apps, online and in the physical world, we are a nation (and a world) of buyers. Increasingly, much of the shopping is ambient in our lives. 

Amazon’s Dash button is an obvious example of automatic purchasing. With the touch of a button, consumers can order more shampoo or dog food or any other consumer product they choose. Appliance manufactures are creating smart machines such as printers that automatically order ink when levels get low, and washing machines that order detergent after a certain number of cycles. Smart fridges notify customers when foods expire.

Subscription-based purchasing is even more seamless. Spotify, Netflix, Zipcar, Buffer, Evernote and Adobe’s Creative Cloud all charge your credit card without you having to do a thing—or even notice. The transactions are so quiet that customers can take the services for granted. How brick-and-mortar retailers compete with that kind of speed and simplicity is anybody’s guess.