NEW YORK - With more and more consumers shopping online, do brick-and-mortar stores stand a chance?
At least for one pop-up shop in New York City, the future of retail is about embracing digital trends rather than resisting them.
Mastercard and Marie Claire magazine have teamed up to create “The Next Big Thing” concept shop, a pop-up store in SoHo that brings the convenience of online shopping to a physical storefront.
Industry insiders aren’t discounting physical stores just yet.
“I’m a big believer in the physical store and I think when you look at just pure volume of sales, you still see a majority of that happening in a physical environment,” said Stephane Wyper, senior vice president of Internet of Things partnerships and commercialization at Mastercard.
For its part, Mastercard is taking cues from the online world and making transacting as seamless as possible.
“We look at solving for one very key point of friction, which is how do I reduce the amount of time that somebody has to wait and actually go through the checkout process,” Wyper said.
Window-shopping is interpreted literally here, with a touchscreen display built into the store window which lets users get their retail therapy fix any time of day. Passersby can browse, select and pay for clothes without stepping foot inside. Payment is made via an accompanying store app that’s powered by Mastercard.
Inside, fitting rooms also allow for cashless check out and payment via touchscreen mirrors created by Oak Labs.
Technology is allowing brick-and-mortar stores to respond swiftly to ever-changing consumer tastes.
“In the online world where you can track page views, click-throughs, we can track impressions, discoveries, dwell time, and provide that real-time data analytics,” said Phillip Raub, co-founder of b8ta. The retail tech startup was part of the concept shop and had several consumer electronics on display.
Tech startup b8ta uses cameras to measure foot traffic and time spent looking at products. Tabletop tablets display product information and marketing that vendors can change on the fly.
“Physical retail is probably the #1 biggest area of opportunity for brand product and awareness . . . the future really is looking at how do you start monetizing the space and the services that you provide, in addition to the fact that you can purchase products,” said Raub.
Not to be left out is the social experience of shopping.
“This is a playground for women,” said Nancy Berger, publisher of Marie Claire, “It really brings together, in a social way, interesting women so that they can experience this all together. And I think that sense of community is really going to be an important part of this experience.”
The pop-up store runs until Oct. 12 and has hosted several events such as makeovers, food samplings and talks on health and wellness.
By bringing digital convenience and know-how into a physical store, organizers are showcasing a 2.0 version of brick-and-mortar retail.
“It’s really an opportunity, when you look at the Internet of Things and these connected devices, to really leverage those, to really redefine what the physical store could be,” Wyper said.