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Beyond Consumption

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freefotouk via Flickr

Source: freefotouk via Flickr

The trend of the pop-up venue breathes new life into the traditional store experience. Now more than ever, people need compelling reasons to physically be in a retail space. Although technology has helped us manage our time better, we generally have less of it. Less time plus an astounding amount of obligations means that people just can’t be bothered to shop in-store when shopping online is so convenient. Companies know this, which is why it’s almost mandatory for a store to have an online market to keep up with consumer habits. But will this trend result in the demise of the physical store?

Retail anthropologist, Paco Underhill, has built a career around observing consumer’s interactions with their retail landscape. But it becomes difficult to observe consumer behaviour when the atypical shopper is taken out of the physical store and shops in their own home. The world of retail is shifting,  now advertisers need to appeal to both online and offline customers. Underhill is renowned in the industry for his use of secret customer-tracking cameras to analyze consumer habits, but this may not be so effective in the new age of shopping. However, his discovery that retailers should not only provide a service, but a mood and experience in their stores is still very relevant today, and might be what saves the physical store.

Luckily, the shifting landscape of retail has already inspired some innovative thinking.

Screenshot from video

Screenshot from video

Creative retail and marketing pundit Rachel Shechtman is one of retail’s top innovators. Shechtman is the founder of the concept shop STORY, a New York City-based boutique that goes through an upheaval every four to six weeks changing its theme, merchandise, and fixtures. STORY is like a gallery albeit a gallery that sells things like a store. After all, purchasing something shouldn’t be obligatory. The potential ‘new’ type of shopping experience exhibited by Shechtman, encourages play and exploration where buying something isn’t absolutely mandatory and browsing isn’t unproductive.

“I’m exploring this concept of transactional storytelling and really building moments around very specific subject matters or themes and inviting brands to participate in that through innovative sponsorships.” – Shechtman

Shechtman’s concept is surely inspiring, but will other stores catch on and try to create more of an engaging and integrative store experience? Or does the conveniency of online shopping trump any store experience?