Retail in Asia

In Trends

Showrooming stores a reality

Showrooming used to be a pejorative term, but retailers are now beginning to create stores specifically with this in mind, offering a full set of samples but with all orders channelled online, freeing staff to focus on offering a personal styling service.

A new type of showrooming fashion store will open this September in Daikanyama, Tokyo.

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Operated by Melrose, the store will aim to bridge the omnichannel divide between online shopping and retail stores.

The store will target women in their 30s and 40s with a mix of imported brands like Sonia Rykiel and Canal New York, as well as Melrose’s store label, so in that sense a typical select shop.

Instead of selling in-store, however, customers will browse and try on there but use their mobile or a staff-operated tablet to order online.

The 230 sqm store will house samples of all merchandise in all sizes, and customers will be able to scan barcodes using the Melrose app to purchase in as few as three clicks.

Freed from stock taking, till management and folding piles of stock, staff will be able to devote all their attention to customers, offering a personal styling service – all staff have been chosen for their styling experience in retail or at fashion magazines – and so, Melrose hopes, improve upsell.

While Melrose expects 95% of customers to order to home, a small amount of stock will be held for those who really can’t wait. Melrose will only sell through its own website, with no plans to have accounts on Zozo and other malls.

For Melrose, showrooming stores offer several benefits: avoiding stock taking and other
inventory tasks in store means fewer staff needed, a key factor given the shortage of shop staff at the moment.

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Devoting more time to customers through personal styling tips also helps make stores more relevant in an e-commerce age, beyond simply allowing customers to try before
they buy, and should encourage purchases of other items to go with a particular selection.

The world’s biggest fashion retailer too is experimenting with showrooming stores. Inditex opened a pop up store for Zara in Roppongi Hills in early May while it waits to re-open its main store there. Customers can use their smartphones to scan product to purchase using the Zara app or at the till, for delivery to home or store. Customers can also scan items to try on, and will be notified when the product is waiting for them in the fitting room.

Michael CaustonMichael Causton is the co-founder and partner at JapanConsuming, a specialist research firm on Japanese retail and consumer markets. Founded in 2000, JapanConsuming has become the leading provider of insights on Japanese retailers and consumer trends to retailers, brands, government agencies and investors. As well as a highly regarded monthly report on the market to help subscribers keep up to date with the latest trends and data. JapanConsuming produces in-depth reports on retail sectors, seminars on key trends and consulting on market strategies and future trends.

(Source: Japan Consuming)