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Retail Environments


Why We Need More Feel in Retail


Mark Fanthorpe, Founder of Umbrella Design, discusses how an entertaining retail experience can help to keep customers interested.


The Internet has cornered the market when it comes to engagement free purchasing. Yet, while there’s no doubt it is a phenomenal tool for fast, stress free shopping, it cannot beat the high street for pure entertainment. By entertainment, I mean how shopping


on the high street makes you feel. I’m talking about the excitement of discovering something new, the sensual overload of a market stall or department store perfumery and the feeling of belonging as you step into your favourite store. These are the intangibles of retail that create the emotional connection between shopper, brand and product. The things that help transcend the high street shopping experience from a product getting exercise to a much sought­after day out. The problem is that today’s high streets,


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filled as they are with chain stores, coffee shops and mobile phone outlets, feel like they’ve lost their lustre. If the high street is going to take on the Internet it needs to get its mojo back and focus on what it does best ­ creating the feel good factor. I accept that this won’t be easy. I’ve spent my entire life in board meetings where the Financial Director and Sales Director always have a good argument for what they want because it has noughts at the end of it. They then stop at me so that I can talk about the feel of retail. My words seem to have less sway because they can’t be quantified in terms of pounds and pence. However, that doesn’t make them any less vital to the bottom line. In my experience, what attracts and ultimately draws a customer to a particular shop or product is more about these intangibles and the emotional connection


they create than it is about price. I believe that moving forward it will be the brands that explore and understand these emotional elements that will achieve the greatest success on the high street.


Environment The environment has got to feel right because customers must want to enter, stay and purchase. They want to feel a sense of belonging ­ that the store in some way reflects a part of who they are. It might be some part of their personality or it might resemble a place that feels familiar. From what I’ve seen of Virgin’s new banks


these could provide a good example. The company understands that our feelings towards banks have changed somewhat and are focused on making us feel more comfortable, but they will need to be


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