Should retailers slow down shopping?
The Wall Street Journal last week called out a trend toward "slow shopping," whereby stores tone down "spend now" pushes in favor of more "leisurely and enriching" experiences.
Stores still must accommodate the shopper looking for convenience and a fast-checkout, said the article, but also offer options for upgraded browsing.
According to a recent study on luxury retailing from the Fashion Institute of Technology’s (FIT) graduate degree program for beauty industry executives, the trend is partly driven by the increased preference for experiences over luxury purchases coming out of the last recession. Along with the rise of e-commerce, a more "digitally linked" shopper — with quicker and easy access to information product — is also supporting the slow shopping trend.
The FIT researchers wrote: "High touch in an environment that purposefully evokes relaxation and discovery creates a small degree of escapism, which will create a positive affinity with the brand, ultimately driving loyalty."
Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, told the Journal, "The core of slow shopping is to make it interesting and engaging, versus online shopping, which is quick and easy."
Photo: Club Monaco
Among the examples cited in the Journal report:
- Origins, owned by Estée Lauder Cos., offers free mini-facials, a huge sink for sampling soaps, scrubs and lotions, a wall specially lighted for selfies, and ample seating.
- Club Monaco, owned by Polo Ralph Lauren, has a library, flower shop and coffee bar in its New York flagship, and whiskey bars, flower shops, bakeries and farmers’ markets at some of its international locations.
- Lowes Foods enables shoppers to clip herbs from an in-store garden and sample craft beers.
- Urban Outfitters at some locations hosts rock concerts or art events, such as making silk-screen designs while serving food and offering haircuts.
The slow shopping trend is somewhat linked to the "slow movement," which began in the eighties and calls on individuals to dial back life’s pace in today’s frenetically-paced society.
But it’s also part of retail’s overall experiential retailing trend. With traffic steadily declining over the last few years, Kohl’s and Target are also opening food concepts, such as cafes and upscale restaurants, to provide something beyond the e-commerce experience.
Speaking to Retail Dive, Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, said retail is just getting back to offering more than shopping "when we think back to the Walnut Room at Macy’s in Chicago, or think back to the days of the soda fountain in the ‘five-and-dime store’."
- The Slower You Shop, the More You Spend – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- The Future Of Luxury: Capital Of Creation – Fashion Institute of Technology
- Slow shopping – Academia
- Amid declining store traffic, retailers woo shoppers with food – Retail Dive
- Stores Confront New World of Reduced Shopper Traffic – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
What types of “slow shopping” experiences do you think are most effective at retail? Can you cite examples in which slowing down the shopper benefits particular retailers?