Total Business Magazine

Are Retail Concept Stores Going to Save Brick and Mortar?

With the growth of eCommerce, bricks and mortar stores have been struggling to survive in recent years. In fact, recent statistics show that in the UK in 2017, approximately 16 high-street stores were closed every day.

It’s a worrying time for high-street retailers, but brands are starting to come up with innovative solutions to help them stay in business. Concept stores are particularly proving successful at helping bricks and mortar stores stay afloat. So, what are concept stores, and could they really save brick and mortar businesses?

What is a concept store?

There’s a lot of misconceptions over what a concept store actually is. The real definition of a concept store is one which offers a carefully selected collection of products which connect via an overlapping theme. This helps to give the customer a unique shopping experience that they won’t receive elsewhere.

They’re about creating a personalised customer experience. Many concept stores offer additional elements such as a café or gallery space. So, these stores are more than just a simple shopping space, they’re more of a lifestyle offering.

Do they work?

Although the struggle of bricks and mortar stores would lead you to believe that customers prefer the online experience, this isn’t actually the case. In fact, research shows that customers still prefer the in-store experience. The only thing that’s really changed is customer expectations.

Concept stores such as the latest one opened up by Belstaff on Regent Street and earlier in the year in Munich, are catering to these new customer expectations. They’re providing a more personalised experience, which is an important element for today’s consumers. They also provide something unique that shoppers won’t find in any other store.

So, they do appear to work when they’re done correctly. The trouble is, many brands are trying and failing to launch successful concept stores. This is largely down to the misconceptions regarding what makes a concept store successful.

What makes a successful concept store?

Brands looking at opening up a concept store need to follow examples of major businesses who have taken the plunge. For example, Virgin Holidays have a “try before you fly” experience, allowing consumers to sit in business class seats and browse holiday brochures. The store also has a virtual reality rollercoaster and a spa. Brands need to be innovative in utilising the latest technology, such as virtual reality, and incorporating it into their in-store experience.

Overall, when done correctly, concept stores do have the power to save bricks and mortar. Consumers still want to spend money in physical stores, but they want a totally unique shopping experience. Concept stores provide this, although they can be challenging to set up.

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