Bricks-and-mortar retailers might not be able to beat online competition on price or convenience, but Selfridges has shown that people can still be persuaded away from their computer screens and onto the high street.
In defiance of a tough market that has seen the likes of Marks & Spencer report disappointing results for the crucial pre-Christmas period, Selfridges posted an 8% leap in sales across its stores and online offering. For its flagship Oxford Street branch, the high-end department store group reported a 10% hike in sales. Managing director Anne Pitcher was “delighted” with the numbers, adding: “Our Selfridges Rocks Christmas theme and entertainment really resonated with our customers”.
The Selfridges Rocks campaign included in-store entertainment (cabaret acts, pop-up choirs, Santa visits and confetti cannons) and exclusive product launches. Key to its apparent success, says CIM marketing director Gemma Butler, was an understanding of the target market – and timing. “The festive period is the perfect opportunity to get people involved in more than just shopping, to get them buying into the festive experience.” With events scheduled in-store every day, for CIM’s Ally Lee-Boone, “It really feels like Selfridges has taken event shopping one step further than anyone else.”
Although this kind of innovation has potential applications across retail segments, Butler warns that, “Cutting and pasting this method into a different model won’t necessarily work. You need to know who your audience are and what they expect: is it experiential journeys through the store? Or would they prefer a greater emphasis on the synergy between online and in-store?”
At the very least, says Butler, Selfridges has proved one thing: “Bricks-and-mortar retail isn’t dead. It just needs to adapt to the changing environment. If people are given a good enough reason, they would rather leave their house than sit at home in front of a computer screen.”