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GlobalShop seminar report: 'Do' rooms to replace showrooms

Retailers will increasingly replace showrooms with ‘do’ rooms, according to future predictions made by Julian Lion Boxenbaum, New York principal of agency Eight Inc - the agency behind the original Apple Store – presented at GlobalShopin Chicago this week.

Boxenbaum, also a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, presented eight predictions based on his work designing experiences, and on analysis of previous developments in business and wider society. “We [as a society] are really bad at predicting the future,” he told delegates. “We are bad at correctly identifying the problem.”

Using examples such as Apple stores, but also brands such as home appliance retailer Pirch, Boxenbaum showed how a more experience-driven model can drive interaction with customers. Pirch encourages customers to try its kitchen products by cooking a meal in-store; bathroom customers are able to have a bath. “Average customer dwell time at Pirch is two hours and 11 minutes,” says Boxenbaum. The store achieves sales of $3000 per square foot or retail space.

US menswear brand Ministry of Supply has introduced a 3D print knit service that provides garments tailored to the thermal profile of individual customers to keep them warm. Customers are scanned in-store to create a bespoke sweater, using 3D print knit technology that has also been used to create blazers.

“This provides an experience for the consumer, and it helps retailers too,” says Boxenbaum. He says that creating items quickly to order reduces material waste, cuts inventory and simplifies the supply chain.

Boxenbaum’s other predictions including further empowering retail staff to be brand advocates,  moving beyond traditional sales channels to reflect how consumers see brands, an increase in multi-sensory communication, and increased inclusivity. He named Tesco’s policy of providing free fruit to children as an example of the latter trend: one simple loss leader allowing parents to spend longer in-store and feel more closely related to the brand.

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