“It’s not just about buying,” explains designer Simon Porte Jacquemus. Because we are in the dimension of an experience, a concept. The idea is to break frontiers in the world of luxury. We want the customer to feel welcome and have a fantastic experience, regardless of what they do inside’. Beyond virtual retail, then, there is a new horizon, that of hyperphysical shops
Le Bleu is a fun pop-up opened by Selfridges in London. You walk in and find yourself projected inside a swimming pool changing room through 3D sensory experiences in the various rooms. And you can see and buy special edition Jacquemus brand bags stored inside transparent lockers. Abi Buller, an analyst at The Future Laboratory, a trend forecasting, and brand strategy consultancy, defines these kinds of shops with one adjective: ‘hyperphysical‘. They are influenced by the Metaverse and attract young consumers. Are they the new frontier?
Shops turn hyperphysical
Digital technology is just one of several ways to build the shop of 2022. During the lockdown at Covid, we were tempted to think that online sales would wipe out physical sales. It only took a few months to show us that this prediction was wrong. Consumers, probably tired of buying through a monitor, feel like going to the shop. But they express different needs. The customer wants to find in the boutique the flexibility and ease of navigation of digital shopping while at the same time being able to try on clothes and accessories and receive advice from the staff. Retail, therefore, has adapted and evolved. But the question remains the same: how to attract customers?
Thus, shops have increasingly turned into places to host exhibitions or live concerts, where you can meet famous artists or sportspeople. Meeting places that are not merely for sale. “It’s not just about buying,” explains designer Simon Porte Jacquemus on Instagram. ‘It’s also an experience, a concept. The idea is to break frontiers in the world of luxury. We want the customer to come in feeling welcome and have a great experience, regardless of what they do inside. You can even walk in and take a photo’. The important thing is that the store offers an unforgettable experience.
Explain to us what it means, really
But what is a hyperphysical shop? Jacqueline Windsor of PwC and partner in the Strategy & Deals team explains. “Hyperphysical retail, in its simplest form, is multi-sensory and encompasses what it means to be human. These shops represent that and respond to the other side of the coin, which is digital and the rise of the Metaverse.” Besides Jacquemus, Balenciaga, Coach, and Mulberry experimented with the hyperphysical shop.
Meta’s counterintuitive counter-trend (Facebook)
There are, however, also those who have taken the reverse route: from the virtual to the physical, to sell accessories for digital interaction. That the physical shop is important has even been realised by Meta (Facebook). In Burlingame, California, it has opened its first store in history, intending to attract consumers to the Metaverse. Three products are on display in 140 square metres. They are the Quest Two virtual reality headsets. Then, the Ray-Ban Stories, ‘smart glasses’ that capture photos and videos to share on social platforms. And finally, Portal, a video calling device.