The Revival of Bricks and Mortar Retail: In-Store Experiences
Despite the surge of online shopping, the retail industry is seeing a massive shift for retailers to develop bespoke interactive experiences in a physical space and an across the board reinvestment in bricks and mortar retail.
It seems as though the ‘store’ is standing the test of time and much like the iconic denim overall and hair scrunchy, brick and mortar is making a comeback into consumer buying habits.
This trend has quickly been picked up by forward-thinking brands, including fast-fashion store H&M with the introduction of their concept store.
A concept store defines a retail space designed in a bid to enhance the shopper experience and monitor the success before rolling out. They often mix an eclectic collection of products such as a mix between clothing and homeware or may introduce a café/restaurant.
We took a visit to H&M’s newly redesigned bricks and mortar store based in Hammersmith to explore the brand strategy, individual offering and aesthetics.
H&M In-Store Experience
The concept store goes beyond aesthetics and promotes a stronger sense of customer experience and the H&M brand for its shoppers.
In what H&M describe as a “covered courtyard feel,” the concept store looked to attract the sustainable conscious and experience-driven consumers, as well as drive their online fan-base in-store. The store is designed to feel more like a relaxing home environment rather than a commercial space. This was achieved by designing a space that sells a lifestyle, including clothing, homewares and the brands push for sustainability.
The inviting store exterior conveys a homely feel through the Mediterranean style hanging plants, oversized carriage lamps and euroline steel windows. Upon entering the store, customers are greeted with a bespoke H&M’s flower stalls, fully stocked for events by Grace and Thorn Florists based in East London.
Bricks & Mortar Retail Design: Fashion
The centre of the store features a vast black iron staircase with plants hanging from the structure between the floors. Greenery is used throughout the store to elicit positivity, wellbeing and a sense of relaxation. Soft spot lighting is suspended from electrical channels running throughout the store, whilst all constructional elements remain exposed.
Polished limestone tables are consistently used to display the selected catalogue. Natural stone plinths create levels and contrast with the white table, while minimalistic stock displays and the homeware collection create a sense of luxury. ‘Staff Picked’ POS clothing is displayed to elicit a more personal response for the customer.
The lingerie department conveys a strong Mediterranean aesthetic, divided from the rest of the store with voile curtains and large palm plants. Combined with natural lighting and located against the euroline steel windows, the space creates an illusion of a vacation.
Brand Ethos & Sustainability
In recent years, awareness of the pollution caused by the textile industry has risen drastically and more brands are trying to show that they are contributing to saving the planet. As such, H&M have introduced multiple services such as their ‘Garment Collection Scheme’ where customers are invited to donate clothes and textiles from any brand in any condition and will receive a £5 H&M voucher in return for one full carrier bag.
As another brand push for sustainability, H&M offer an embroidery, haberdashery and personalisation service where customers can repair damaged items or personalise new items for as little as £3.
“At H&M group, we believe it’s senseless that so much clothes and discarded textiles end up in landfills. Recycling is one of many ways we fulfil our goals towards a sustainable future. In 2017 we collected more than 17,771 tonnes of textiles- the equivalent of 89 million t-shirts.”
H&M App Development
Introducing an interactive and seamless shopping experience, H&M launched an image recognition tool that helps customers move from inspiration to purchase in the H&M app.
Powered by the image recognition technology and self-learning algorithms, customers can upload images of clothing and the app will immediately present one or several similar products from H&M collection. Other features include ‘need another size or colour?’ where customers are invited to scan the product barcode to have instant access to stock information, including material details, available sizes and colours.