MA Fashion & Brand Studies
Professional issues in the industry
This report will look at the use of implementation of technology in stores and at how different devices can impact the retail environment, consumer behaviour and employee productivity.
In the current climate there are many factors affecting professional practice. Looking at the design, fashion and retail industry this report will look at some issues which are creating an impact. With the modernisation and introduction of even more technology in stores there are many affecting factors and implications.
There are many factors that affect buyer behaviour before even considering store environment. A combination of cognitive and behavioural decision making takes place with a number of various factors including values, attitudes and motivations aswell as personal characteristics, whether this is age, gender, race or income. Other factors include socioeconomic grouping and social class. These all should be taken into consideration when evaluating the effectiveness of interactive store environments. Each factor unmistakeably influences shopping behaviour and choices in their own individual way and therefore has to be carefully considered when new technologies and strategies are implemented into stores taking into consideration there core market and there target market.
The use of technology in stores can range vastly, from self-checkout kiosks to augmented reality displays and smartphone payments systems, each offering a different amount of interaction. However it has to be considered whether this ultimately has an effect on the amount of personal, human interaction customers have with employees. Does this then eventually mean people are making the choice to become more unsocial when deciding to avoid employee interaction?
It is suggested that brands are now more aware of the retail environment rather than brand image and a study has found that a change in strategies has meant that building a connection with customers is vital.1 However is an increase of technology a way to do this and the use of technologies ultimately cutting out the intermediate person, or can new technologies and interactive store formats offer the ability to build brand trust and loyalty.
1 Weekes, C. (2010). Why brands are using the retail environment to build trust. Available: http://www.utalkmarketing.com/pages/Article.aspx?ArticleID=18690&Title=Why%20brands%20are%20using%20the%20retail%20environment%20to%20build%20trust. Last accessed 20th April 2012.
Many visual merchandising reports and industry case studies reported via WGSN suggest that the main reason for the application of new devices is to improve customer service and satisfaction and not to cut down on staff levels.
It could be considered that an increase in technology increases antisocial shopping behaviour. Online shopping is a considerably less sociable way of shopping, the social aspect is cut out and consumers are now favouring this. They want convenience and ease of shopping, and the ability to browse at their own leisure. The fact that people need to shop hasnt changed, people need stuff but the way they go about it is changing. Consumers antisocial behaviour is being driven by the ease of technology and people prefer their own values.
Kogan suggests consumers trust their experiences more than advertising and in-store performance and it has a stronger influence on brand image and consumer spending. It can be argued that therefore brand engagement ultimately increase consumer spending. However when considering interactive experiences and brand engagement it is has to be considered whether the interactive aspect increases or decreases the value of the product. Based on knowledge gained from a range of case studies from WGSN and Mintel it can be suggested that interactive state of the art technology is not just being introduced into high-end stores but also high street stores, although the differentiation between the technologies in these stores is currently noticeable, it is becoming somewhat less distinctive.
Marks and Spencers have introduced an interactive shopping tablet
Triumph- fantasy mirror body scanner
Adidas- virtual footwear wall
Urban outfitters- POS development.
Marks & Spencers tablet.
Triumph Fantasy mirror Adidas footwear wall (source: WGSN)
Urban Outfitters is a prime example of a retailer embarking on such an initiative using Starmount Engage, a mobile point of sale device developed by Starmount, a retail software solutions company. Enabled for the iPad or iPod Touch, it allows assistants to not only close the sale out on the floor, but demonstrate comparison products, cross-sell with lists of related items and integrate loyalty schemes. (mintel)
It has been suggested that the change in atmosphere can affect the productivity of the work force, it can therefore have the potential to have the same effect in customers and their shopping behaviour and purchasing decisions.
Music and retail- what impact does it have?
The overall atmosphere has effect on customer behaviour, although each individual aspect plays a vital part, music attracts customers into the store and encourages them to shop for longer. It is a vitally important factor for a brand to play the right music as it should reflect the brand image. Results from research that has been carried out by MusicWorks, who are an established company who conducts on-going research to demonstrate the benefits of music within businesses, organisations, customers and employees, claims that the right music not only improves the productivity and mood of staff which then influences customers behaviour but customers are likely to recommend a store to friends and family that play music they like, with over half of consumers surveyed said they would spend longer in shops leading to higher consumer spending.2
Some of the following finings included:
78% of retailers recommend other retailers play music to improve productivity and staff morale
61% of retailers agree that playing music increases employee productivity
60% of retailers agree that playing music increases staff friendliness towards customers
84% o f shoppers say they like shops that play in-store music and, of that percentage, 23%claim they would be prepared to pay 5%more for goods if music was being played.
This is great news as it demonstrates that creating a good atmosphere can justify higher prices.
60% would spend more time in a high street shops if they hear in-store music they like.
High Street Stores can increase their competitiveness by playing music. Of those that like to hear music in stores:
72% say a store that plays good music is much more inviting
72% say playing good music significantly improves the image of the store
If given a choice 90% say they would select a high street store with music rather than no music
Further considerations are to look at whether the importance of music only applies to a certain age group, subsequently leading to research into the core target market of the store in question and sourcing appropriate and desired sources of music for the appropriate target market. Music doesnt just have to be brand and identity appropriate but appeal to that of the consumers.
Looking further than the effect of music in retail spaces the whole physical sensation of a store can affect the way and the amount of time customers spend in the store. Looking at a trend from Mintel Inspire, which looks at the ever-increasing amount of time people spend at home, based on the increase of people working from home which is influencing the home surroundings. It has been suggested this feeling of being somewhere of sanctuary can implemented into a store format could make it a place shoppers want to stay, browse and ultimately buy.
Suggestions for creating a calm ambience include:
Making them feel at home with the use of soothed calm environments. Avoiding harsh lighting or vary based on store atmosphere. Offer a range of music rather than traditional chart pop. Provide an area for shoppers to relax and wait, a range of sofas and chairs along with
reading material. Social areas, introducing store cafs/ internet caf/ lounges for friends to socialise/ try on clothes.
Screens playing soothing videos or product information- ( catwalks/ product ads.)
Hollister have a Californian style vibe style to the brand, in which the music plays part of, the store consists of a laid back style.3 Their choice of music portrays the overall feel and atmosphere they try to create; Juke boxes use to be situated instore allowing consumers to choose from a selection of music. The playlists have proved that popular, that they have an account on Myspace allows users to play through multiple playlists, including the spring/summer 2012 song choices.4
3 http://local.brandingstrategyinsider.com/Branding_Hollister_CA-t12130_Hollister+CA.html 4 http://www.myspace.com/hollistersongs
Degrees of interest within a product that a consumer shows within a purchasing decision also has the potential to be affected by the degree of interactivity, therefore levels on emotional involvement may play a higher impact on how effective the u