Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

Marcel Hollerbach

Brick-and-mortar 2.0: big brands lead hybrid experiences

We’re seeing a renewed focus on the high street from household brands like Lego, Nike, and JD Sports. But what does that mean for other brands and retailers? Marcel Hollerbach, Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Productsup, delves into how hybrid shopping could bring back the high street.

Hybrid shopping sells.

Consumer expectations are high – they want the personalised experiences they find online in-store, and they want these experiences to be blended. Research shows 47% of consumers want a mobile app that provides more product information while shopping in-store, and 41% want in-store augmented reality experiences.

In response to these evolving consumer preferences, brands are adapting. According to a Deloitte survey of over 1,000 global executives, 75% said they would invest more in delivering hybrid experiences in 2022. Companies see a lot of opportunity in building a strong presence in both the physical and digital world – the four key drivers for hybrid experiences are increasing personalisation (43%), innovation (43%), customer connection (40%), and inclusion (38%).

So, what kind of hybrid experiences are brands creating?

A hybrid Lego store

There are three big moves worth discussing here. The first is the reopening of The Lego Store in London’s Leicester Square. Picture walking into a Lego store – you want to be entertained and inspired by the creativity Lego unlocks. Transforming this into a hybrid retail experience means going beyond physical objects and short checkout queues. From interactive games and AR workshops to connected mobile apps sending personalised offers and suggestions – these are all essential parts of a hybrid experience that traverses traditional brick and mortar.

Now the biggest Lego store in the world, the new shop leans toward a hybrid retail experience to include a museum, giant-size Lego sculptures, and a selection of hands-on activities.

Inclusive Nike experiences

The second brand worth mentioning is Nike, known for its slick and stylish retail experiences. Recently, it announced a new hybrid shop, Nike West London in London’s Westfield shopping centre, which uses real-time shopper data to create unique in-store experiences – blending digital and physical worlds.

To go beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar experience, Nike West London has introduced its own real-time digital storytelling platform, LED screens showing real-time sport moments, an interactive footwear tool, and more. Inclusivity also remains forefront – similarly to how you could change the language on a website, the store’s workforce of athletes speak 43 different languages representing 15 nationalities.

This isn’t the only way Nike is enhancing its hybrid shopping experience. Walk into any Nike store and you can now scan QR codes to access various AR experiences that tell the story of Nike. The depth of data Nike is using to enhance its physical stores show a mature approach and understanding of what hybrid experiences should deliver.

JD Sports to follow

The third development to look at is JD Sports opening its largest global store in Manchester. The company hasn’t revealed as much information as Nike as to what this new store will look and feel like, but it has promised it will “live up to its strapline as an opportunity to ‘escape the ordinary.’”

Investments in its outdoor events programme suggest the store will deliver more than a standard in-store experience, which will be essential if the company wants to bring in and maintain footfall. Quoted as an “international omnichannel powerhouse of sports, fashion, and outdoor brands,” it has the data and insights to deliver exceptional hybrid experiences to link its virtual and physical stores. However, the lack of solid information suggests its journey to hybrid experiences may still be under development.

Delivering on hybrid promises

A renewed focus on the high street does not mean forgetting about online stores. There shouldn’t be a choice between focusing on physical or digital experiences. In contrast, hybrid retail experiences should blend physical, digital, and virtual worlds. This is no simple feat, though.

Taking Nike’s store as a shining example of hybrid experiences, keeping product information consistent whether online, in-store, or in the metaverse is a mammoth task. This information also needs to link to the interactive experiences and screens on offer, showing up-to-date information on product stock, sizes, colours, and more.

Physical products lining shelves is no longer enough. The only way brands and retailers can deliver hybrid experiences is to acquire a mature technology stack that can flex to the constantly changing needs of their customers across a variety of touchpoints. Legacy tech cannot handle the complexity of managing product information and customer data across a growing number of platforms. Failing to upgrade technology systems to handle larger amounts and varieties of data to deliver hybrid experiences will sink brands further into total commerce anarchy.


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