Brick-and-mortar retail has been hit hard by Covid the world over. People have stayed away from physical stores, opting for the safety of shopping from their own homes. Although China’s containment of Covid has seen physical retail recover better than in most countries, it remains challenging to attract shoppers.
At the height of the lockdown, Chinese consumers shopped online like never before. Even with consumers returning to their normal lives again, the online shopping habit has largely continued with ecommerce-related innovations such as live-streaming, social commerce and community group buying proving sticky.
Yet beyond the ecommerce hype in China, many of the experiences from shopping in a physical store still cannot be matched on a smartphone – for the foreseeable future at least. That is why 63% of China’s Gen-Z inform their brand purchase decisions in shopping malls, and 71% for luxury purchases – among the highest percentage globally.
In China’s hyper-competitive marketplace, retailers need to have their best foot forward to ensure that they appeal to Chinese consumers. Part of this means ensuring consumers have tactile experiences that complement digital touch points. Taking the best of the physical world and cleverly integrating digital touch points enriches the shopping experience, creating personal, tailored experiences that stand out from other online and offline retailers.
One of the best examples that we’ve seen is L’Oréal’s new concept store in Shanghai. The store stays true to L’Oréal’s French roots, transporting shoppers to Paris both through the overall decor, and the interactive experiences. It allows visitors to watch and interact with the KOLs from the livestreaming station. The store also utilises Artificial Intelligence and facial scanning to create personalised recommendations for products, ultimately driving visitors to make a purchase. A key part of almost every interaction is the connectedness with L’Oréal’s WeChat mini program. This ensures that consumers can continue to engage with the brand and products long after they’ve left the store. We’ve made a video to take you through the experience.
Retailers would be wise to view their physical store as a key stage of the customer journey, rather than an isolated interaction. Encouraging experiences that incorporate platforms such as WeChat allow retailers to recruit users for loyalty programs, provide ongoing education and glean data into consumer preferences to further refine the retail experience.
L’Oréal’s concept store is a shining example of how retail stores are likely to look in the future both in China, and worldwide. Retail will have to work more creatively to draw customers in with an experience that can’t be matched on other sales channels. Get in touch with China Skinny to explore how you could capitalise more on your physical touch points and integrate them with digital.
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