I previously wrote about the power of physical retail and as I recently was on vacation in London, going through high street shops, huge department stores such as Harrod’s and shopping malls like Westfield, I feel even more qualified to share more about the magic of physical shopping and hence retail.
The shopping experience is more than just about giving shoppers a moment of experiencing how it is like to own the item physically and “have it” – there’s also the environment, the context to make the purchase decision, and also the opportunity for store to tell a story about the shopper’s identity.
Take for example the Prada stores that control the number of shoppers in the store at any moment by creating a queue and allowing only a certain number of people at any one time to enter the store. This makes you have that special sense of pride when you’re in the store while looking at the long queue outside, thinking you’ve earned the privilege of being in, so it must make sense for you to at least buy something.
Then, there’s the concept like Harrod’s of having many service counters focusing on an array of product each, breaking down a phenomenally overwhelming shopping experience into something bite-sized. When combined with the sheer variety of goods all around you, there is this sense that something around here must fit you; that you should be getting something!
To that extent, the magic of physical retail would remain for decades to come even as online retail comes to take over more of the purchase of more mundane stuff.