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Slow Shopping Encourages Lingering…and Buying

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An April 2015 study by TimeTrade asked U.S. internet users the main reason they decided to purchase a product at a specific store when choosing between four retailers regarding an item with the same price. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said the overall in-store experience they had was the top deciding factor.

You may be tired of hearing about “experiential shopping,” but no matter how large or small a retail space you have, to ward off the online blitz, you’ll have to come up with a shopping environment that makes people want to linger. Staying in your store longer raises the likelihood of buying, hence “slow shopping” is catching on.

The “slow shopping” movement is a reaction to the frenetic lifestyle that has been a trademark of today’s society. It seeks to capture a way of life that is more leisurely and less pressured, but of course, it serves another purpose.

While convenience and speedy checkout are very important, “slow shopping” is also partly driven by the increased preference for experiences over luxury purchases coming out of the most recent economic downturn. With growing online business, a more digitally connected shopper who has access to more information is also supporting this concept.

Recently Fashion Institute of Technology researchers wrote: “High touch in an environment that purposefully evokes relaxation and discovery creates a small degree of escapism, which will create a positive affinity with the brand, ultimately driving loyalty.”

Proponents of slow shopping believe browsing in a store should be a relaxing and rewarding experience and it doesn’t necessarily focus on purchases made. Big chains and boutiques are enticing shoppers to enjoy themselves and spend more time in their stores by installing art installations, performance spaces and cafes and lounges. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays approaching, slow shopping may the ticket to make shoppers linger and buy.

The Wall Street Journal felt the concept important enough to write that the “slow shopping” trend actually seems to be more than a trend.  It validates the direction that brick-and-mortar is going and should go, to stand out in a sea of online retailing.

It noted that Origins has transformed its shopping spaces into places with comfortable seating and experiences that encourage lingering. The new stores sport well-lit fixtures and walls that enable selfies, a long communal table, and huge sinks for sampling soaps and lotions.

“We made a conscious decision to have fewer products and more storytelling in stores,” says Origins Senior Vice President and General Manager Stephane de la Faverie. He also indicated that as a result, sales at stores were up 20% to 40% compared with the old format.

Club Monaco, owned by Polo Ralph Lauren, turns shopping into a pleasant excursion in its New York flagship store by having a library, flower shop and coffee bar. In some of its international sites, whiskey bars, flower shops, and bakeries and farmers’ markets create an environment made for lingering.

Lowes Foods allows shoppers to take some cuttings from an in-store herb garden and sample craft beers. Some Urban Outfitters locations host concerts, art events, serve food and provide haircutting services.

In hopes of increasing foot traffic, Kohl's and Target are also opening food cafes and upscale restaurants, to provide something beyond the e-commerce experience.

Restoration Hardware’s Chicago store, located in the historic Three Arts Club building, and restored by Restoration Hardware Holdings Inc., has attracted customers who never were RH devotees. As an example, a customer was attracted by the store’s elaborate architecture and browsed all six floors of the 70,000 square foot space and ended up buying multiple sets of towels and rugs she normally would have purchased online. She’s excited to return to the store to shop.

Origins’ de la Faverie wasn’t as concerned that shoppers actually stay in the store all day. He noted, “Traffic attracts traffic.” And that’s a recipe for increased sales.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers,
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