Bricks and mortar, reinvented

Posted by Flux on 

10 April 2013

What’s trending now?

Hointer – a Seattle based designer denim boutique is revolutionizing the way we shop.

Download the app in store and scan the QR code on the display jeans. With the click of a “try on” button, the item is delivered to the change room. For the sizes that don’t fit, simply toss into the bin in the change room and the item is removed from your shopping cart app.  Select another from your smartphone and it will be automatically delivered through the “magic” shopping tunnel. You can shop without sales associates. It could even run as an empty store.

Say hello to new age shopping.

Why it’s important?

Despite how far the fashion industry has come with online ecommerce, 80% of shopping still happens offline. The element of discovery, tangibility, fit and store experience is a void that online shopping has yet to fill. The market for innovation in rethinking the traditional retail space is boundless.

Last year Brazilian retailer C&A launched a Fashion Like initiative, installing instant “like” buttons on in-store hangers that connected directly to their social platform. It gauged the popularity of a store item and reflected it in real time to the social media sphere.

A new technology , released earlier this year at the National Retail Federation expo, tracks consumer shopping habits through smartphones. The free wifi offered in store monitors browsing activity; time spent in store; and physical proximity of returning customers. Businesses have steadily adapted to an increasingly technologically driven world. Yet, none has as fully and seamlessly embraced technical integration as Hointer. Its number one ranking for “changing the way we shop” on Business Insider is well earned and its clothing retail model is only the tip of the iceberg.

What’s the butterfly effect?

Regardless of the growing online retail segment, brick and mortar will continue to maintain a strong presence in the retail world. No longer is it a battle between online and offline, but a re-imagined hybrid marketplace for somewhere in between. Hointer serves as a great example at catering to modern consumer needs;

Increased Selection. As ecommerce is free of shelf space limitation, it offers a significantly greater product selection.  With the rise of online shopping, customers are now accustomed to the luxury of choice. Hointer is able to showcase a greater range than traditional stores as only one item per style is on the shop floor. The entire space serves as revenue generating display rather than storage and optimizing rent is a derivative cost benefit

Flexible Store fitting. The gallery styled boutique lends to minimal cost and time in setting up shop. All the components of the store – magnets, hangers, hooks – can be easily dismantled and reorganized at will to accommodate for vagaries of new designs or increased selection.

Optimized Efficiency. From the floor space that allows for immediate visual clarity, to the cell phone triggered sample delivery, Hointer is a business model that understands the modern consumer need for time efficiency. It takes size out of the equation in its display and focuses on product style and knowledge. Given rising labour costs, a side benefit is more efficient use of staff and lower operating costs.

Accommodated Shopping Preference. Shopping at Hointer means that customers have the choice of staff interaction. The most successful of retailers, like Nordstrom, understand the importance of this newfound consumer demand evident in its seamless online and offline integration in giving various permutations of one’s shopping experience.

Informed Shopping. Consumers are increasingly informed and shopping smarter. Recent research by PwC shows that 80% of shoppers conduct online research .  In a world where information is accessible and showrooming an inevitable trend, it is then in the retailers’ best interest to serve as an information hub even if it means providing competitors information – a model that has worked for the biggest online retailer Amazon. Hointer sates this need by incorporating brand, product, fit and suggestive information on the downloaded app.  In addition, shop assistants, who are now free from the manual labour of folding and refolding garments, can focus their customer interaction on imparting knowledge and educating their customers.

The Pioneers

Hointer is the brainchild of an ex-Amazon executive with a mathematics PhD from Princeton. The shop was borne out of the philosophy that nobody likes to, or should, spend unnecessary effort shopping. The result is a patented German-manufactured fuss free solution even the most diehard scavenger shopper cannot resist.

The global hotspots

The beta store is currently based in Seattle and despite only opening doors in November 2012 they already have plans to roll out a store in San Francisco and a second one in Seattle. International expansion to Tokyo and Shanghai are also in the pipeline.

By: Carol Lin

About Carol

Born into the world of fashion retail, Carol is an aficionado of all things in vogue. The cat-feeding, online-shopping, TED enthusiast is often spotted checking-in, instagramming and obsessively pinning. A decade of retail industry experience from commercial to luxury provides an insiders zeitgeist. And her consuming Fear of Missing Out keeps her in check of all real time up to date trends.

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