Why retail’s obsession with speed is wrong

13 May, 2019 Share socially

Smart retailers know that there are different shopping modes which need to be addressed. Take the success of M&S’ Simply Food, for instance. The location: usually by a commuter hub; the offer: simple meal solutions at aisle ends and daily essentials; the payment option: a glut of self-checkouts — all of this is geared towards the world of high velocity. But it’s not exactly new.

What’s new at present, seems to be old. ‘Old’ qualities like expertise, great service and an enjoyable environment that you want to spend time in. In short: things that make you stop, slow down and consider.

Look at the likes of the new Alexander McQueen store on New Bond Street, complete with its own gallery space that is open to the public, or at a more traditionally accessible level, H&M’s recently opened Hammersmith store that offers embroidery services in a ‘courtyard’ style environment. These are experiences created to increase dwell time, to encourage people to go slow.

Why retail’s obsession with speed is wrong

With the success of Starbucks’ Roastery stores in key global cities, you get the sense that the retailers who are most likely to succeed are those who understand that it’s not about high or slow velocity retail: it’s about offering both things, when the consumer wants them.

Starbucks Roasterys (intentional use of singular, for it is a brand name, you see) are a master class in slow retail. To showcase its expertise in providing the famed ‘third space’, Starbucks has created an experience which celebrates coffee as an art form, provides ample, beautiful spaces to enjoy it in and also offers high quality food as well as a smattering of well-chosen aperitifs too.

Why retail’s obsession with speed is wrong

And yet, Starbucks’ continuing roll out of small scale, serve at speed concepts clearly shows that they are well aware of the different shopping modes which modern life has created. Yes, customer needs are evolving at pace, but the key thing is to understand what this means for your business and create experiences that address whichever mindset the customer is in.