We take a look at ‘experience retail’ and how a new flagship store is being opened by an established online brand to expand its consumer channels using this approach.
Omnichannel Retail - Offline Mixed with Online
A lot of change in retail over the last couple of decades is due to technology, but a lot of it has been because of the shift in consumer behaviour. For a while e-commerce was considered the future of retail by many analysts, however, the consumer’s embrace of ‘experience over material’ means that online is just another way of shopping. Customers may start shopping in one and check out in the other. This omnichannel way of shopping, as defined by Harvard Business Review, means there are many different ways for the consumers to discover products. For instance, this could be done by ‘experiencing’ the brand via the physical stores, which may, in turn, embed further the affiliation with the brand. Modern consumers demand the same experience and information they need whatever channel they use.
A good example of the omnichannel process adding a physical site for an e-commerce business. Seems counterintuitive, but it is part of the strategy that retailers have been adopting. Let’s consider Gymshark, a fitness apparel and accessories brand, manufacturer & online retailer based in the UK. The company is supported by over three million highly-engaged social media followers and customers in 131 countries. Teenager Ben Francis and his high-school friends set up Gymshark in 2012 in a garage, and are now one of the fastest growing and most recognisable brands in fitness, and now they’re opening their first physical store in Regent Street (planned for 1st October ‘22).
As part of the experience part of the new flagship store, it will feature ‘The Sweat Room’ – an interchangeable sweat studio operating from the store, offering a regularly rotating programme of classes for the Gymshark community, while the space doubles up as a “stage” for bigger events.
The retailer said it will offer around 30 classes per week, five community sessions, four Open Gym sessions and a Sunday Brunch event with a guest professional each week. The store will also house ‘The Pro Bench’ – a bar where its experts will be able to impart their fitness advice to the conditioning community. Anyone will be able to book 25-minute appointments with an in-store professional on disciplines ranging from personal training to guidance to mindset.
The retailer said that while the store will sell Gymshark merch and apparel, it will be “a place for our community to experience the essence of Gymshark”.
Gymshark will be part of our West End Retail Design Tour for our groups to explore the new kids on the block. Contact us via email@example.com to find out more about experience retail and the youthful brands taking the sector by storm and how established brands are adapting to these new challenges