Despite the success of Apple’s long lauded stores, the rest of the category has been slow to adapt. The majority of brick-and-mortar electronics sales still take place in out-of-town retail parks and multi-brand high street chains, which score well on choice and efficiency but poorly on experience and immersion.
It’s a counterintuitive situation for a sector that focuses on high-ticket-price items that consumers spend an exponential portion of their days interacting with, often to high degrees of intimacy. But this landscape is shifting. Playing catchup, 2019 saw both Microsoft and Samsung open brand embassy in central London locations that privileged experience as highly (and in the latter case higher) than unit sales.
These catch-all incumbents have done a good job, but we believe others have achieved even greater success, largely through targeting their environments precisely to use case and demographic – technology might be universal, buts its also increasingly personal. Here we’ve collected three retail strategies that focus on key growth areas in tech retail: the home, the luxury consumer and the pro gamer.
Create a habit for the smart home
The 2010s saw our opportunities to interact with the Google brand go far beyond the search bar, with the brand diversifying its already-universal reach with smart product, most prominently the Google Home smart speaker (2016) and the Google Nest Hub (2019).
With these products has come the need for an experiential, physical brand world. Elodie Ricord Studio and Uzik Agency have closely collaborated to fulfil this, designing a space for Google France in Paris’ Saint-Lazare area that’s an office also open to select customers. The 300-sq-m plan is divided by two areas – L’Atelier offers space for conferences, private events and training for VIP clients, a small lounge and coffee break spot, while The Workshop is totally dedicated to relaxation. Here, there is a cafeteria and a larger-lounge-cum-library.
‘Google sought a friendly, warm cultural place inspired by nature,’ explains Ricord. ‘The library layout is intended to open up to the world with a multitude of small, original objects that imbue a fun spirit and atmosphere like that at home.’ She explains that opting for residential-esque environment was an aim to replicate the ‘freedom of expression, creativity and innovation’ that so often takes place in the privacy of intimate spaces.
Read more here.
Remember that tech is also a luxury
In one of the biggest transformations Harrods has seen in its 185-year history, a Gensler-designed, state-of-the-art technology department has been unveiled, complete with areas for experiential masterclasses. The 11-room, 30,000 sq-ft (2,787-sq-m) space now entitles Harrods to the distinction of having one of the largest electronics departments in the UK.
The expansion grows Harrods’ pre-existing tech department – relocated from the third to the fifth floor – by nearly 80 per cent. Gensler was briefed to create a space that simultaneously references the retailer’s heritage in addition to its traditional focus on fashion. A 3-m-wide catwalk, decked with Harrods’ signature floor pattern and a continuous illuminated ceiling feature, was designed to connect the five dedicated zones for vision, computing, audio, imaging and connectivity. The catwalk also serves as a brand showcase, hinting to customers what will be on offer once they make their way into the immersive rooms.
‘Our vision was to create a world-class destination for some of the biggest technology brands in the world,’ explains head of technology Stewart Mancey . ‘Harrods now has a product offer to rival not only our direct competitors, but also niche specialist technology retailers.’
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Use location design to drive loyalty
2,000 fans queued up outside the first flagship from gamer lifestyle brand Razer upon its recent opening in London. Local experience design agency YourStudio worked alongside Razer’s team and Singaporean studio Crombie Design to develop a retail environment for the ‘next generation’ of gamers – GlobalData anticipates that this generation could very well turn the industry into a 272.3-billion-euro one by 2025. The Razer space, comprised of a series of immersive areas developed to turn young consumers into loyal customers, predicates this development.
The location lets people test hardware, visit dedicated consultation zones and play newly released games. ‘The design intends to gamify guests’ shopping experience,’ explains a spokesperson for YourStudio, ‘With interactive light installations that blur the boundaries between the physical and the digital.’ A greyscale palette, concrete surfacing and a framework of grid-like lighting define the interiors, ‘giving guests the experience of being inside the digital world’. A series of plinths showcasing hero products – to be consistently refreshed – greets guests, leading to an exhibition wall extending the entire length of the store.
Razer understands, though, that today the retail experience need not completely revolve around product. An e-sports arena has been built in the basement, a space for the gaming community to come together for a regular programme of talks and events.
Read more here.