A brief visit to Solihull last week was enough to convince that shed retailing and experience are not mutually exclusive.
A brief visit to Solihull last week was enough to convince that shed retailing and experience are not mutually exclusive. Dixons’ PC World and Currys Megastore in that location is very large. Yet somehow, it manages to provide a series of in-store vignettes that banish the wide-open prairies feel that tends to characterise this form of retailing.
You’d actually be hard pushed not to find something that’s worth taking a look at and while the products are doubtless intrinsically interesting, it’s the store that’s the real star. Dixons has taken the lessons provided by other sectors and put them to work in an environment that should by rights be pretty antithetical to this kind of transfer.
Take the SDAs. The acronym, in case you’re wondering, is not a euphemism for what used to be termed ‘a social disease’, but turns out instead to mean Small Domestic Appliances – toasters, kettles and suchlike, to you and me. These have been located on mid-shop equipment that might not look out of place in a John Lewis store and they’ve been colour-blocked as well – meaning that they sing out across this very large floor.
The other point is that for the most part, the product is allowed to speak for itself – there is less point of sale than might be the norm in a shed - but the offer is organised in a manner that allows the shopper to grasp what’s going on. This means a fair amount of ‘show, don’t tell’. Take the washing machine area. Here in place of the numbers that tell you how many kilos of clothing a device will clean, there is a Perspex unit next to a washing machine filled with, say, 9.5kg of freshly pressed shirts and neatly folded white underwear.
It’s a simple way of demonstrating what the numbers actually mean, but it does mean that it can be simply and immediately ‘read’, without any head scratching.
And if all of this sounds like an unholy advert for Dixons, it is not. It’s just that this is a retailer that is doing what needs to be done to retain customer loyalty – continually refining its stores and seeking to make things better.
Standing still and not questioning what is done and the way in which it is achieved seems a recipe for failure. While there are a number of reasons why Comet, of rinstance, has not succeeded, it could have done worse perhaps than having a look beyond its immediate competitive hinterland to work out how to polish its act.