The future of the department store is of great interest to us, not least because dozens of clients use i.LEVEL to trade in department store concessions – John Lewis, House of Fraser, Debenhams, Topshop, etc – you name it, we’re integrated with them, allowing for the seamless transfer of stock and sales data between retailer and fashion brand.
Yet, as news hits the headlines about the closing of several Debenhams stores, some argue that the UK has fallen out of love with the department store. Once the anchor of the high street, business analysts continue to question their function within the retail industry, as consumer shopping habits have transformed so markedly over the last decade.
However, we disagree. We’ve recently looked round one of Britain’s favourite retailers, and all we can see are fresh ideas, more choice and perhaps a business model adapting for a more educated – diligent – customer. Maybe we haven’t fallen out of love after all, and are just asking for some changes to be made to a very successful and long lasting relationship.
Take beauty halls for example – customers can now breeze in on their lunch hour for blow drys, brow tints and still be back in the boardroom for afternoon meetings. Treatment rooms have been set up off the shop floor for massages, and have become havens to relax and unwind. We also saw facials being carried out by one premium skincare brand, and many shoppers were receiving consultations, make overs and product advice by a fully equipped team of passionate experts.
This isn’t just shopping, this is an entirely new customer experience.
And in some areas of fashion, high street sales are seeing a resurgence. For example, high street wedding dress sales have soared by 34% in the last year as departments stores offer innovative solutions to customers on a tight budget.
So is there a future for the department store? In our view, yes. Those stores that offer either good value or a distinct, compelling customer experience will win through. And those that offer both will rise to the top.
Are you trading in department store concessions? Here at i.LEVEL, our software is integrated with many high street retailers so managing the back room operations of your business has never been easier. To find out more, contact us today on 01234 761 757 or email .