New consumers resort to information technologies on a daily basis as a way of accessing information, to communicate and to shop. However, their use of these technologies when shopping is not uniform, and four different profiles can already be established:
- the ROPO consumer (Research Online and Purchase Offline) does his/her research online and purchases offline;
- the C&C consumer (Click & Collect or Instore pick up) purchases online but picks up products at the post office or in the shops;
- the Store to Direct consumer purchases online but collects information by visiting physical stores;
- the Web Only consumer accesses information and purchases online.
As they become more and more familiar with this new type of consumer and his/her distinct shopping habits, fashion brands have been developing new distribution channels.
Physical stores have witnessed the emergence of new concepts, such as ‘flagship-stores’, ‘pop-up stores’ and ‘showroom stores’.
© Prada Store LA e NY
With flagship-stores, brands aim at communicating values and at offering a wide range of products, some of which are designed and distributed exclusively in these shops. Examples of this are the N.Y. and L.A. Prada stores, where art and consumerism meet.
In some of these, namely in the luxury segment, another trend is emerging, a ‘third space’, somewhere where consumers and visitors can socialize in a low-key atmosphere while having access to a more personalised service.
© Hermés Store Paris
Pop-up stores are temporary, they can be open from a period of time that can go up to a year and are vehicles for a brand to experiment, normally resorting to events that aim at establishing a closer connection to the market. They are used both by luxury brands such as Gucci and by ‘mass market’ brands such as H&M.
© H&M beach store
The ‘showroom store’ is a shop where consumers can access and try on everything, however, they will have to purchase online. This is exactly what Desigual in Barcelona has on offer.
© Desigual Barcelona
Online stores, such as Net-a-Porter and Farfetch are also establishing a more physical approach to their consumers.
After a first experience in 2011 with the Karl Lagerfeld brand, Net-a-Porter has been setting up virtual window-shops in many cities in the world, where, through an iPhone, iPad and Android compatible app, consumers can photograph the product, obtain information about it and add it to their shopping cart. Farfetch has reinforced its position as an independent designers channel by acquiring Browns, in London, a multibrand store that stands out for supporting and showcasing new talents and innovative fashion.
© Virtual showcase Net-a-Porter NY
Today retailing also takes on particular importance in building a sustainable economy model.
In fact, both physical and virtual sales points are also a space where products can be collected in order to be recycled or repaired, thus contributing for the so-called circular economy, and they put emphasis on responsible consumerism, one that does not put the environment or human rights at risk.
Retailing is changing and zooming in on new consumers.