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Thursday
Dec192013

Bringing the Online Shopping Experience To Bricks and Mortar Stores

Image © Gensler

There’s lots of talk out there about online shopping making bricks and mortar stores less relevant. But, the research doesn’t necessarily support that conclusion. What is clear is that customers are looking for a personal shopping experience. They want to engage with brands on an emotional level. Gensler’s new Brand Engagement Survey explores this trend in depth. We think the online store can complement the bricks and mortar store without cannibalizing sales. It just takes making the physical store as fun, engaging and convenient as the online store.

Recently we designed the Store of the Future for specialty retailer, Charming Charlie. Charming Charlie has been building its brand awareness as a woman’s accessory store with customers for nine years starting with a handful of stores in Houston, Texas and expanding to more than 284 stores nationwide.

Charming Charlie built customer loyalty by offering fashionable accessories at an affordable price. Its merchandise and “girly” atmosphere was readily embraced by teen girls and their Moms catapulting sales to more than $400 million. Stores were large (about 8,000 SF) and crammed with merchandise organized by color. We were asked to re-think the store, reduce the square footage, and keep the quantity of merchandise the same (40,000 units.)

Image © Gensler

To keep the store from being chaotic, we organized it around a central style bar according to trend and color. Customized fixtures inspired by lady’s dressing tables display merchandise as well as store back stock. We scaled the fixtures to make them ergonomically comfortable for the average female shopper. Branding messages are featured throughout the store on fixture end caps, table top signage and video monitors. Customers are encouraged to gather items that appeal to them, bring them to the style bar and work with a staff member (called Charmers) to edit their selections. Style boxes located adjacent to the merchandise create an edited selection of “hot” items similar to style features in leading fashion publications.

Image © Gensler

We also improved the check-out experience to make it easier and to encourage customers to browse additional items that can be easily added to their purchase.

Image © Gensler

Our goal was to entice people into the store by offering them a glimpse of the merchandise within, to organize the merchandise so it was physically and emotionally appealing, and to create opportunities for the staff to engage with their customers on a personal level to help them put together their “look” and suggest additional items that might be of interest. We also needed to make the whole shopping experience fun so they would stay in the store longer because research shows that the more time the customer spends in a store engaging with the brand, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

Image © Gensler

The new store is a big hit. Customers love the mix of merchandise, technology and personal service. By delivering on the brand promise and creating a cohesive, engaging environment for customers to “find their fabulous”, Charming Charlie is building its brand awareness and broadening its customer appeal.

Lisa Pope-Westerman is a design director in Gensler’s Houston office. During her 18-year career, Lisa has designed a variety of award-winning restaurant, retail, and hospitality projects. Her projects are innovative and distinguished by their urban sensibility. Contact her at lisa_pope-westerman@gensler.com.

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Reader Comments (1)

online shopping provides a great customer sanctification and services. http://www.cocofortes.com
03.13.2015 | Unregistered Commenterwilliams

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