When it comes to technology, we’re used to things generally getting smaller and more compact.
But it’s surprising when a retail giant announces expansion plans – involving mini shops.
It seems Habitat has discovered small is beautiful, with bite-size versions of its plush interiors stores going down much better in the current climate.
And it’s not the only one.
The latest retail evolution seems to be all about adopting the “less is more” attitude.
Multichannel retail has prompted changes in the retail industry with more brands recognising that customer engagement no longer comes from having the biggest shop on the block.
Following the success of its in-Sainsbury’s concessions, Habitat is opening the first of several mini stores in Leeds this week.
The new retail business model tends to lean towards putting multiple brands under one large roof - or generally having smaller shops.
Dixons’ formula of combining Carphone Warehouse, Currys and PC World under one unit has worked well. And Sainsbury’s Nine Elms ‘store of the future’ in south London houses a pint-sized Habitat as well as a mini Argos.
This is one way to improve customer experience, by creating almost a shopping centre in a single unit.
But the effect of having everything available on the internet is that shops can become smaller.
Retailers are learning their investment is better spent online than on real estate. Moving mini-formats into town centres keeps the brand visible, but allows buyers to get a feel for the products.
But with less stock, a challenge may be to place technology in these mini-stores to make up for the lack of range.
With other big retailers such as IKEA and Decathlon believed to be considering mini stores in town centres, this seems to be a flavour of the future retail trends which will see a changing face on the high street.
Those asking themselves “Will retail stores exist in the future?” should not assume that the internet will take away the physical shopping experience altogether.
Retail will simply evolve, with mini shops and even pop up stores giving brands a more imaginative way to engage with the customer.
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