Can retail industries threatened by online competitors do more to improve interactive in-store experiences?

Foyles is introducing a digital search and mapping product which can be used in-store. Can retail industries threatened by online competitors do more to improve interactive in-store experiences?


The simple answer is yes but the execution of this is incredibly important. So many retailers have got their technology customer journeys wrong and are applying it as a layer over an experience. It has to be integrated into the overall experience otherwise it just becomes a gimmick. We would always ask first, what are you trying to achieve and why? The Thomson’s store we designed focused on using technology to help the customer widen or narrow their product choice. It’s designed and delivered to be a useful tool to help customers get closer to the product that is right for them.

Jon Lee, creative director, 20.20


Retail is now omni-channel and needs to deliver against consumer needs and shopper mindsets. Physical retail needs to take its place within this ecosystem and understand the complimentary and unique roles it can play. New retail is connected, convenient and personal. Brands need to populate their ecosystems with digital utilities that enable and enrich the experience. Foyles have unique strengths and expertise and should develop digital utilities that enrich the experience, providing greater product depth and build deeper relationships not just solve an issue of convenience! 

Kevin Gill, managing director, StartJG


Rather than feel threatened, ‘bricks’ retailers have an opportunity. The shopper’s journey these days starts in one place, often pauses and is then resumed somewhere else entirely. Digital in retail is maturing quickly, shifting from gimmicky experiments to delivering meaningful experiences. Instead of tracking unconnected interactions across CRM, social media and in-store purchasing, if a retailer has a ‘one single customer view’, the opportunity exists to create a seamless journey, ensuring that retailer has the highest chance of purchase in-store.  

Alasdair Lennox, creative director, Fitch


Stores need to become compelling destinations once again. A lot is already happening, for example Audi’s showroom that gives the opportunity to design a car in 1:1 using huge interactive video walls. We are already looking at virtual reality in store and as retailers invest in tech savvy boffins, with projects like JLab, we will see a real delivery of smart technology that makes the high street an even more exciting place to be.

Nigel Collett, chief executive, rpa:group.


A book shop with a rabbit warren maze of aisles, no clear signage, and an interesting and eclectic range of books… Sounds perfect, in fact the very antithesis of the sanitised, user preference generated ‘big data’ shopping experience that is Amazon. The ‘traditional’ book shops counter to the threat of online is omni channel, not an instore map, it’s the equivalent of a digital sticking plaster. Celebrate the serendipity that retail can provide; the allure of a book with amazing jacket artwork, perfectly presented instore will catch my eye like a shiny thing to a magpie! Augment the display with passionate and knowledgeable staff and a highly crafted editorial eye to the range (physical and digital) and Foyles relationship with customers will surpass the transactional. Only one retailer will ever be the cheapest, but sometimes there’s more that we’re looking for. Yes the shape and size of the business may change to adapt to market forces but we’d advocate celebrating what make Foyles unique, and for the last 111 years that’s not been digital.

Michael Fern, principal, Edge

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