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Can shopping ever really be ‘theatre’?

Can shopping ever really be ‘theatre’?

With all the talk about the future of shopping and technology, that customers are in the driving seat fully now and that companies which don’t go with the technology flow will die, there is yet another new set of analyses and a batch of new terms.

One is that retailers must create ‘retail theatre’ according to a Samsung survey.

And another is that customers need ‘shoppertainment.’

OK, so here’s a challenge. Let’s see if any switched on retailers can make one person’s experience as ‘theatre’ and/or ‘shoppertainment’ so wonderful that he likes it!

A typical Curmudgeonly Modern Shopper

Let’s admit this aging man is not the contemporary buyer beloved of advertisers. Here are his distinguishing features:

  • He resists pressure, hates most self-service and excessive service in equal measure.
  • When he goes into a shop, he wants to look without interference but when he has a question, he expects instant attention from staff!
  • Window shopping and online browsing not only do nothing for him, they drive him up the wall.
  • People who cold call at his door or by phone get short shrift – when he is in the market for double glazing, he will go out and look, so he doesn’t need to think about it right now.
  • Parking charges and busy times, being approached in the streets and malls by chuggers and other shoppers, shops of interest to his wife with no seats for him, are anathema.

So What Do They Offer Me?

What’s on from retailers to entice him?

  • linking the omni-channel experiences seamlessly
  • no barriers linking shopping channels (TV, radio, direct mail, catalogue)
  • every opportunity to enable consumers to interact with devices and platforms
  • in short, creating retail theatre through technology on the shopping journey.

Yuck, he will say. And not only that, but this theatre starts in the home.

Graham Long, vice president of Enterprise Business Team at Samsung told Business Reporter (February 2014), retail theatre used to be about what happened when you entered the store.

Now, ‘my son sits on the couch on his tablet designing new trainers. He goes to the store and looks at the shop’s interactive format displays and real shoes. Retail theatre now starts in the home, the office, on the train. Wherever you are with your mobile device…’

Surely what is missing is that the son doesn’t need to leave his house to have the same ‘journey’ through augmented reality and virtual changing rooms and still end up with trainers he has designed for himself.

The slightly different perspective of the future is, according to Digital River in the same Business Reporter, ‘bricks-and-mortar and online shopping venues will also change dramatically, fusing shopping and entertainment to create a space where consumers can shop while still at home watching their favourite shows or playing a game…’

Customers will browse, experience products and interact with staff from home and if they go to a physical store ‘they will be automatically recognised based on their online profile and facial recognition.


Is he the perfect web shopper – anonymous buyer in open-all-hours outlets that will deliver so he doesn’t need to go anywhere or talk to anyone?

No, because he resents having to stay indoors for some 3-hour delivery window.

No, because he feels guilty as he likes the IDEA of high street shopping for OTHER PEOPLE.

No, because he doesn’t trust all websites or the banks to keep his data secure.

No, because they never leave him alone and expect him to buy something again. And then again.

Other blogs about the shopping experience, journey, theatre, whatever:

Shopping Online or On-screen, People Still Have to Shop, So What’s the Problem? 17 July 2013

Your Face When Shopping Is the Retailers’ Biggest Asset, 16 December 2013

TV Christmas Ads Cost Millions, Raise Millions and Amount to Very Little, 4 December 2013

Is Tescos Going to Be Your Top Holiday Destination? 7 August 2013

Death of the High Street in the Digital Age Is Over Exaggerated, 4 March 2013

Hidden Charges Are the Sting in the Tail of Online Shopping, 4 December 2012

Image: Oliver Paul