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The Retail Fishbowl – The power of perversive shopping

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Yes this is a clean article; it’s safe to read on. While shopping in Sydney city on the weekend I walked by the Apple store and what struck me was how long I was lingering outside, looking at what people were doing inside the store. This was a retail fishbowl!

In there we a number of people sitting against the window doing emails, presumably using the free WIFI, there are people getting what appeared to be free instructions and other testing the latest products. They all looked like they had a purpose or at least wanted to appear purposeful.

So it got me wondering why it was that I was so interested in what these people were doing. I then realised I was also imagining who they were and why they were there that day and what they be like outside of this experience. Weird, yes I guess, but then isn’t it a common trait of society to be interested in other people’s lives and experiences? Let’s face it reality television has made a whole genre out of it.

Now think about the cafes you walk by looking at the patrons, maybe it’s what they're reading or eating. Check out how behaved that dog is! Maybe we’re wishing we were in that moment. Even the people at the bus stop, all with same end goal, just to get on the bus but all full of ideas they are probably dying to share.

This is what makes shopping such a buzz for customers, but also an opportunity for brick and motor retailers. This is one of those elements that online shopping simply can’t replace. Apple understands the power of perversive shopping. Their whole experience is one of showing off everyone else’s experience and enabling us to take part. Heck, I even saw a guy in there with a Samsung phone, but Apple probably didn’t care as long as he was in their store.

Where can we as retailers provide that experience? The future shopper is connected and wants to be a part of the experience. They share their new ideas freely and purchases with everyone. Apple’s unique in their nothing on the windows display. Their customers are the window dressing. So if the average retail store only has static displays, then what will be driving the experience when looking from outside in. The customers must make it a destination choice.

I recently went to a large department store and saw a DJ mixing it up. My son thought that was cool and I thought it was a good idea at first, but he quickly got bored and we lost the vibe so walked away. In fact no one was hanging around. There was no interaction and hence no desire to participate. The same day I saw a cooking class spilling inside and out a kitchen wears retailer. There were kids making cookies and parents inside buying. It didn’t take much to figure out which retailer was going to be opening their till more that day.

Activity generates interest and I believe we are interested in people, their lives and shared experiences. Maybe not too openly but perversely. What unique customer driving experiences have you encountered?

Happy shopping

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan is a Technology Retail Specialist.

1 Comment

  • Doug
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    25 June 2013

    Very good write-up. I definitely appreciate this
    site. Thanks!

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