We report as Boots and The Hut Group put forward their visions of the health and wellbeing store of the future. As you’d expect, both are very different, reflecting the difference between their brands, and both are at a very different stage of development. Nonetheless it’s possible to see some themes in common. That starts with the basic fact that both see a need for stores as a place to display products for shoppers to come not only to see them, but also to experience them, and to experience the wider brand. That’s quite a step for The Hut Group, since its “experiential, retail marketing space” looks set to be the closest thing the company has to a shop. Boots is talking about yoga classes, hair colour consultations, and more in its new concept store, where it will test out ideas to be rolled out to its national store network. The Hut Group’s vision is as yet less clear, but it’s a fair bet it will include events and advice alongside product displays.
But while stores remain important for multichannel retailers, and for some online retailers, customers’ growing readiness to buy online means there’s no point having too many. H&M said this week that it would cut back on its store opening plans as its shoppers tend to make more of their purchases online. That’s also been a factor for French Connection, which has already closed half of its stores and ultimately plans to have only 30 in the UK, as it readies itself for sale.
We also report this week on how Bathstore, which traded online and through 135 stores, has failed in what its administrators described as a challenging retail environment, and from our European coverage we report as Zalando signs a new partnership with Topshop Beauty.
Today’s guest comment comes from Kathryn Gill of Berwick Partners, who considers the importance of the last mile in the customer purchase journey.
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