IT’S MAGIC!

Retail theatre is back in style as brands tap into their inner magicians and lure back the virtual and physical shoppers.

Gangnam Style Seoul is having a ‘moment’, as Dior rolls out a new stand-alone boutique in the famous Gangnam-gu district to celebrate 70 years of the French luxury brand.

From a VR movie promoting their ‘Backstage’ collection to their VIP lounge with luxurious furnishing, Dior’s creatives have created a real omni-channel fashion ‘cathedral’. In a nod to the local artistic influences, they also staged ‘Esprit Dior’ – a Korean-French collaborative show at a nearby art gallery. We can only hope that the ‘Gangnam Style’ fashionistas don’t see the prices inside the new store because they’re as painful as the extracted tooth that the boutique resembles from the outside.

Happy Birthday, Ted Baker!  Not to be outdone in the omni-channel retail theatre, Ted Baker is celebrating 25 years since opening their first London Covent Garden store by going east. The new store in Shoreditch mesmerises pedestrians by offering a chance to play games using the interactive screens in the windows.

Once in, you can enjoy 3D holograms, winking lenticular displays and LED projections. My favourite was the offer of a 360-degree virtual store visit from the comfort of my own desktop, including close-up views of the new collection, finding the lovely Eamila top and getting a link to the product page on TedBaker.com. Classy. Alas, that is where the fun ended as no stock was available except for fairy size (otherwise known as Ted Size 0)! Have the people of Shoreditch shrunk?

Go inside to experience the outside Do tech companies make good retailers? Retail-shy Google is trying to catch up fast, having been something of a slow coach to the retail game. Google’s recently opened stand-alone store in London has a giant Earth Wall that keeps the kids busy while you upgrade your phone. Doodling on the Google Play wall is also strangely therapeutic (particularly after a whole day on a Retail Safari). There’s no smell of fresh grass though (as there is at Androidland in Australia), but rumour has it that the next iteration will have a fully-fledged multi-sensorial experience. So what does Google smell like for you?

Poundland What makes your customers smile? In the case of ASDA, it’s apparently an in-store café where everything costs £1 as their new ‘stores of the future’ take on the overpriced Starbucks.

Shoppers will have digital menu screens to select products and will also be able to use digital vouchers on their mobiles. A lot more clothing space for George will also be on offer, with Magic Screens to try the styles on, as fitting rooms aren’t planned. More tech has also been added on the service side, as click-and-collect drive-through lines are being installed for the largest stores. Good luck with that Starbucks challenge!

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Boom boom pow! Zippy, a Lisbon-based kids shop that welcomes the little visitors to tap walls, poke shelves and do everything that they are usually not allowed to do gets our vote for ‘tech delight factor’. Kids even get their own mini printed receipt with a fun “offer” and can punch the walls, creating unexpected noises and melodies in response. You can also see this in use at Dalziel and Pow’s lastest installation. By making every wall interactive, whilst leaving sufficient place for product, D&P has turned the shop into one big toy, ensuring a smile on every face. Closer to home, they also created Rockar Hyundai (see below), a new format of car dealership aimed at women or non-petrol-head men (are there any?).

Forget Victoria’s Secret angels – we want Hyundai’s! At Bluewater shopping centre in Essex Hyundai has equipped their showroom with no less than 42 screens to help the customers design their own cars, making the boring process painless and, dare I say, fun. Even better – the female staff (or ‘angels’) have a ‘no haggle’ policy, and you can even bring the car in for service the next time you’re shopping at Bluewater. Simply genius! No wonder they won the Retail Week Tech and Ecommerce Award for the best use of omni-channel technology.