Shopping trends/observations from SoHo

I spent a good part of Monday afternoon wandering around SoHo with my mom who was visiting from out of town. We popped in and out of stores, a rarity for me, as I nearly exclusively shop online (as I’ve mentioned before). Although it was a fun afternoon, I couldn’t stop thinking how much I prefer the online experience!  A few notable observations/trends from the day’s shopping trip though, that I wouldn’t have been exposed to if we hadn’t ventured physically to stores:

Retailers using iphones – I only noticed this at one retailer (C.Wonder) but that may be because my mom and I didn’t transact at many of the stores we visited. At C. Wonder though, I was impressed by the device they used to process our transaction. They used iphones encased in some type of device that made it possible for them to scan barcodes and check-out shoppers at any place on the sales floor, not requiring the associates to stay behind the cash-wrap. It was more complex than a Square device, but seemed similar in functionality. The Apple store uses a similar technique but I haven’t seen this as widespread quite yet.I only imagine this will become extremely prevalent in the future.

apple-iphone-case

Option to email receipt – Similarly, it seems to be a more common option to have your receipt emailed to you instead of printed. We experienced this at Bloomingdale’s, and I’ve also had this offered previously at Banana Republic. For retailers, this gives them another way of obtaining your email address and linking your transaction to it, and for consumers, an easy way to keep and maintain records of what you purchased, facilitating easier returns. I do find it a questionable practice if the retailers don’t make it explicitly clear that your email will also be added to their mailing list.

Streaming fashion shows – Tibi, Chanel, and Mackage all had large monitor displays incorporated into their stores streaming their latest runway shows. This gave a feeling of excitement and lured shoppers into feeling like the items they were touching on the racks were more “legitimate”, providing inspiration and a feeling of exclusivity. Also the fashion shows themselves cost so much to produce, it’s sensibleto repurpose the content and turn it into a store display. This tactic is most easily used by designer brands, but seems that more middle-market retailers could create their own “fashion shows” and play the content in stores or on their sites, potentially generating similar or even greater levels of excitement for their shoppers.  I’ve seen Banana Republic do this in the past (airing their fashion show in-stores) – there may be opportunity for other retailers like LOFT, White House Black Market, Anthropologie to take a similar approach.  It seems like their consumers may get excited about this idea of seeing the clothing on some type of runway models, even if it isn’t an actual show from Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. 

tibi-spring-2011

“Coming soon” signage -Walking down Mercer street, on one block alone there were multiple “X store – opening soon!” signs covering the windows of soon-to-be-non-vacant spaces. Both Joie and Equipment are opening physical stores, and the signage got me excited about these pending arrivals. I also noticed this week in Time Warner Center (Columbus Circle) similar signs for H&M and a new location for C.Wonder. This signage seems effective in terms of attracting attention and building anticipation among people who will likely become the most frequent shoppers, people who work or live in the area and repeatedly walk by. It also gives a feeling of “in-the-know” as these shoppers can claim that they knew the scoop on what was soon to be landing in the neighborhood. All in all, I think the signage is a wise (and likely cost-effective) move as a way to use the space that has been leased to promote the existence before the stores are physically ready to open.  This isn’t a new development (stores/restaurants have done this for years, even within malls), but seems that the signage itself has become more creative, large (filling entire windows) and bold.

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