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Editor's Comment: Smarter shoppers need entertaining

Keely Stocker

As we move into late November, debate about participating – or not – in Black Friday rages on. Jigsaw joined the fray this week by making clear this week it would not be getting involved. 

Its chief executive, Peter Ruis, said in a manifesto produced by the retailer that discounting is becoming a real problem for the industry, with China’s Singles Day last week (November 11) yet another example of the increasingly discount-focused culture.

As retailers expand on a global platform, this plethora of international discounting days becomes even more prevalent. Statistics on the number of UK customers buying on Chinese platforms on Singles Day shows that shoppers are becoming smarter – and have more access – than ever before. It’s something we will be discussing at our annual Drapers Fashion Forum – but more on that next week.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon’s Prime Day, Singles Day and, of course, good old Boxing Day… how many promotional days can any business embrace before the effect on margins – and the customer perception that it is a discount brand – becomes too much?

Making shoppers smarter has been the focus of a new Channel 4 series called The Shopper’s Guide to Saving Money. This week, the first half of the programme looked at the cost of designer jeans asking: “Are they worth it?” First educating the viewer on the origin of the word “denim” (the Nimes area of southern France) and taking a look at the process from raw cotton to weaving and dyeing in the Colin’s factory in Turkey, the programme then showed a number of experts not being able to guess the true price of a pair of jeans at first glance, insinuating that this is determined as much by the brand as anything else.

Despite this, the show then highlighted that a more expensive pair of jeans would usually have a better cut, be made of better denim and have more details included – a slightly confusing message to viewers.

However, what is becoming more and more clear as shoppers get smarter is how important it is for retailers to focus on creating in-store experiences to attract and retain shoppers in store. This is not a new concept: Topshop in Oxford Circus has long had bands performing in-store, but it is now becoming a more permanent feature for many retailers.

Whether it’s Thomas’s cafe at Burberry, tea-tasting at White Stuff or Oasis’s new Tottenham Court road store, which includes a cafe and bar called Saucer & Spritz, the aim remains the same. Independent retailers have always had to work hard to attract shoppers in store, often resulting in events or creative initiatives to become part of the local community and at the forefront of shoppers’ minds. It’s also something at which luxury retailers excel: providing that extra experience in-store (along with some liquid refreshment), resulting in increased dwell time and plenty more opportunities to spend.

Add to that the growth of digital technology in-store to allow for improved customer service and ease of payment without queuing and customers have more than enough reasons to visit.


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