Tiger and Muji – Brick-and-mortar stores are far from dead

Last Sunday was another triumph for Tiger store in Spitalfields. Cheerful music was on, customers were in a good mood, filling up their baskets with fun little items.

Who ever thought this little Danish variety store would become a global retailer, whose success story spans from London to Tokyo? It’s more than just a concept store that stands in between IKEA and pound shop.

At the same time we are seeing a growing cult for Muji, a Japanese store that sells, basically, anything from humble white shirts to simple bean bag chair. Today, Muji plans to set up 7 new stores in Canada over the next 5 years while Tiger is also set to open several new stores in the UK.

What led to their enviable reputation?

Notwithstanding the recession and the rise of eCommerce, these international brands have managed to build a global fan base.

If you have been one of Tiger’s stores, then perhaps you’d agree that there are 2 things that set them apart from competition: the affordability and variety of their products, most of which can be purchased under a fiver. Despite the difference in price range, both Muji and Tiger offer an eclectic selection of minimalist and sleek design ranging from office accessories, simple electronics to party essentials, attracting a wider demographic.

So here we go, some bricks and mortar businesses are expanding and thriving. Neither Tiger nor Muji had digital strategies as priorities in their minds when they started.

Whoever said that eCommerce was taking over real shops should take their comments back, right?

So why invest in technology at all?

Despite all the hype built around eCommerce or mCommerce, physical stores are far from extinction. Truth to be told, the prevalence of eCommerce will not prevent people from going out and shop with friends. Face-to-face interaction is a basic ritual that will unlikely to diminish as some human habits are stubbornly consistent.

Yet, not everything has stayed unchanged. Our needs and wants have definitely evolved.

In short, brick-and-mortar businesses are here to satisfy our anthropological needs. While digital stores are more likely to keep up with consumers’ fickleness needs – i.e., technology is here to enable further personalised and customised shopping experience.

Unless you have a personal shopper, the attention a shop assistant can give to an individual shopper is pretty much limited. Who can deal with unsatisfied shoppers 24/7? Where can shy customers get more personalised shopping advice? What can give them a bigger voice?

That’s where technology will come in handy.

Omni-channel as the key to customer satisfaction

An online-offline synergy – That’s how the future of high street retails will look like.

Today, consumers are smarter and pickier. They face more choices and they are not embarrassed to shop in a wider range of stores, from local pound shops to renowned department stores. It’s not unusual to see the same person picking a candle at Lidl while buying a beef steak at Waitrose. They are smarter in a way they tend to do a bit of ‘research’ online before actually purchasing anything offline. One of the roles of digital commerce is to enhance in-store experience by anticipating shoppers’ preferences and updating inventory accordingly.

So high street needs digital and vice-versa to build the perfect shopping experience.

Hence we might see more hybridization of digital and analogue in high street retails. How exactly? That should be our next topic to explore…

What do you think?

Appnova is a digital agency specialising in web design, UX, eCommerce, branding, digital marketing and social media.

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