With consumers flocking to return to the high street this week, it’s a positive sign after a long year for non-essential retail. However, while physical retail might have taken a bit of a beating since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with consumers returning to the high street now that lockdown restrictions have eased, does it have the upper hand when it comes to a brand experience?
Tim Harrison, director of pure play retailer, WatchPilot, thinks so. “Seeing the positive reaction that consumers have given to the high street since lockdown restrictions have eased has been encouraging and has given us, as an ecommerce business, much food for thought,” he says. “Whilst we’re immensely proud of the digital and seamless experience that WatchPilot offers to our customers, this third dimension would extend the experience that we deliver to them and add a further dimension in how we interact with them. Having a bricks-and-mortar presence would be a worthwhile move for us.”
And it’s not just the potential gains in customer experience. Harrison explains: “Having a bricks-and-mortar presence provides an opportunity to support not just our customers but offers high street representation for our brand partners, too. At WatchPilot, we pride ourselves on the range of brands that we offer our customers. Many of our competitors have a physical store presence which, from both a customer and brand perspective, adds trust and integrity to a business; a physical presence will hopefully allow us to expand the range we offer, making a bricks-and-mortar footprint crucial for us as we continue to grow.”
So, which destination is WatchPilot headed for? Harrison says: “Whilst we’re yet to finally decide on a location, we would like it to be London based, although we are also considering alternative locations with a strong high street presence. We’ve considered the possibility of having a physical store for a while but seeing the positive reaction to non-essential retail reopening has only strengthened our desire to expand into bricks-and-mortar locations. Whichever location we decide on, we’re currently working on a concept design for an in-store experience to launch later this year, which we’re really excited to deliver.”