Each week a new retailer seems to be in trouble as the high street continues to struggle against the world of online. From Debenhams to House of Fraser to John Lewis, it seems no one is immune to the ‘middle ground’ squeeze. But with the likes of Selfridges reporting their 12th consecutive year of growth recently, what can we learn from high-end department stores who seem to be going from strength to strength?
It’s all about the experience.
With the likes of Amazon Prime offering us next day, if not same day delivery on thousands of items; long gone are shoppers’ appetite to lug themselves to the high-street, pay through-the-roof parking fees and in turn fight off those around us to find that must have outfit or long-awaited household purchase. We simply can’t be bothered.
Retailers are therefore having to work much harder to tempt us off our sofa and through their doors. Responding to the experience led boom and the need for that daily must have Instagram moment, high end department stores have been at the forefront of experience led shopping for years. Not afraid to invest in the trend, the likes of Harrods and Harvey Nichols actively give up their retail space to excite shoppers with everything from blow dry bars to champagne bars.
And now the 'middle ground' are following suit. John Lewis & Partners recently launched ‘experience desks’ where you can book in for a manicure, cook up a storm with a professional chef or - if you’ve got £10,000 to spare – have the entire store closed just for you to indulge in a VIP shopping trip. As part of their recent re-brand to ‘& Partners’, the retailer hopes to trade off its Partners expertise to create meaningful shopping experiences for shoppers in every single one of their 51 stores.
But is an in-store haircut or a gossip at the champagne bar really going to tempt us to give up the convenience of our mobiles from the comfort of our own homes?
Retailers must fight harder than ever for every single shopper. Only those who are clear in their identity, offering an experience and service level unrivalled elsewhere, will ultimately prosper. After all, there’s only so many pop-up bars, spin classes or blow dry’s you can get through whilst looking for that must have outfit you originally went looking for.
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