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Thomson unveils its store of the future

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What will stores of the future be like? Thomson came up with its own answer to that question this week as it unveiled its first next-generation Holiday Design Store.

The travel retailer has brought digital into the store as it looks to make its shops somewhere that customers can research and explore potential holiday ideas, as well as somewhere they can get advice and ask questions of sales staff.

The first of Thomson’s new-look stores is a 2,187 sq ft shop in Bluewater featuring a video wall shop window, an 84” touch screen interactive map that customers can use to explore the world and find inspiration. High-definition screens and projections throughout the store offer changing images and videos, with content ranging from top 10 lists to live weather information, reviews and destination videos. Social media feeds are also streamed onto screens, giving customers an insight into potential dstinations.

Other areas of the store include free wi-fi in the pool area, self-service computers at the advice bar, and large booths where customers can explore their own relevant images and video content, projected onto the wall.

Kathryn Ward, director of retail for UK and Ireland at Thomson’s parent company TUI , said the store showcased the future for the retail network. “Central to the concept,” she said, “is the designing of unique holiday experiences customers cannot find elsewhere.

“We’re combining the knowledge and expertise of our people with a range of technology that will really bring choosing and booking a holiday to life, and we’re looking forward to welcoming our first customers to the store.”

The Thomson store is on Thames Walk of Bluewater’s Upper Mall.

Our view: The future of the high street is a fascinating subject, and we’re always looking for insights into how it may look in the future. Travel is a particularly interesting area to consider, since selling holidays is all about selling the idea – there is no product to take away.

That’s made the sector particularly vulnerable to online competition over the years. But as new retail brings the online and the store closer together, it seems Thomson/TUI has brought the information and inspiration that the internet offers into its shop design. We like the use of editorial online content instore, though as with everything we’ll have to wait and see what customers think – and whether this spells a sustainable future for the travel industry, or not.

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