Stores with touchscreens are commonplace these days - all part of the multichannel/omnichannel (call it what you will) effort that retailers hope will help them accrue incremental revenues.
Yet, as in all things, it is first-mover advantage, or something that takes an existing idea and plays with it, that is likely to confer a genuinely competitive edge.
The recently opened Marks & Spencer store on Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat may be an example of the latter. This is a 5,380 sq ft food and clothing store that is designed to show “the best that Marks & Spencer has to offer”, according to Teresa Clark, head of store design and international store development at the retailer.
It is not a large space and the secret to displaying so much lies at the heart of the ‘E-boutique’ in the clothing area. Here, a “virtual clothes rail” has been installed consisting of two tall, upright digital screens. Shoppers can select from the screen and put their chosen garments on the digital clothes rail and then turn the garments round, look at their shape and even move them along the rail, if they wish. When they’ve had enough of this, the chosen items can be viewed on models on the other screen.
Practically, this is about getting the maximum offer into the minimum space without sacrificing shopper engagement. And, according to the retailer, it works. That is probably because what has been done is substantially different from the normal in-store flatscreen implementation - sufficiently so to catch the eye of the jaded consumer.
For M&S, the trick is now to take what has been done in this store and to apply it more generally across its smaller footprint stores. It’s all about doing more with less.