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The point of sale is dead


STORY wellness new yorkA radical reinvention of retail business models is defining today’s best brand experiences at retail.

With this in mind, there is no longer one definitive point in time that closes the sale, rather a series of moments that must work together to build and sell the brand.

To win today’s savvy and selective shopper, the point of sale must become the point of inspiration.

The phrase ‘point of sale’ was first coined in the 1950s as a description for the final interface between customer and merchant. It was a definitive moment where the sale was closed.

The challenge today is that these opportunities for exchange have multiplied. Technology is radically changing what and where retail can be seen and felt, and the point of sale can happen for shoppers in more ways and in more places – across more channels than ever before.

As technology and customer expectation continually and profoundly re-orientate retailing, the point of sale needs to mean more.

It can no longer remain as a passive moment in time, but must expand to encompass a range of elevated and engaging brand moments that work together to reward shoppers, offering an emotional exchange that captures their custom.

With the extensive changes we have seen in the retail landscape, we need language that better reflects the fundamental shifts in what shoppers are seeking.

The point of sale needs to become the point of inspiration.

Today, every shopper interaction must count as an opportunity to build, the brand even while we’re selling it.

Against this new context, the shopper becomes immersed in a dynamic and rich media experience called retail.

Active, compelling, and orientated toward answering shoppers’ needs, it focuses on providing them with relevant solutions and inspired ideas – at multiple points on their journey.

The cost of what’s being sold no longer dictates how it’s sold. To this end – luxury fuses with value; fashion mixes with food; cutting edge technology meets analogue charm. Every moment is a chance to delight and deepen loyalty and relationship.

The best retailers are pioneering this thinking through new points of interaction and inspiration for shoppers. Everywhere becomes an opportunity to close the sale.

story, design, new yorkWhen thinking of best practice, Story in New York immediately comes to mind.

There is no doubt that Story’s founder, Rachel Shechtman, is at the forefront of the movement towards modernising physical commerce.

A 2000sqft retail and events space, Story is described as “a space that has the point of view of a magazine, changes every four to eight weeks like a gallery, and sells things like a store”.

Shechtman herself refers to Story as “the concept”.

Throughout the year, Story becomes home to different themes, including Cool Story, Wellness Story, and Love Story. Every detail of the space is dedicated to exploring the theme, from spatial design down to the products offered.

When a Story ends, the space closes for two weeks while the shelves are cleared and deconstructed to make room for a new fitout and products.

Rachel and her Story have not only caught the attention of shoppers and the world’s media, brands are paying her to become part of the experience, with General Electric and HP among the big names to have been showcased instore.

Another example of retail transforming the point of sale comes from Birchbox. The core of this retail concept is anchored in discovery and personalisation.

Describing its concept as a “leading discovery commerce platform”, it asks consumers to pay $10 a month to receive new and interesting beauty product samples. This opens opportunities for brands to effectively sell their products via a connection with shoppers constantly anchored in surprise and delight.

This sort of forward thinking highlights the constant evolution of retail, that at its very core is active and far removed from the connotations of a one way, passive experience associated with the phrase point of sale.

Retail is at its most exciting inflection point in decades and the language we use can box us in or, like Rachel Shechtman, break us out of old paradigms.

Through the creation of new terminology we can do greater justice to the multi-faceted and ever evolving space that is retail. Will you embrace it?

Caroline Ghatt is planning director, brand and retail at Leo Burnett Sydney.



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