There is much talk about the future of retail. Major chain stores seem to be collapsing regularly, and high streets up and down the country have become semi-populated places where empty properties lie idle. Mass retailing giants like Tesco’s turn shopping into a warehouse experience, and thrifty customers use physical stores to see products before buying at discount from the lower-margin online retailers.
For a while now I’ve been wondering about how issues of making things easy to find in App stores might be improved. In most cases today, if you want to find an App in an App store, you really do need to know what you are looking for before you start. That might mean that you need to know the name of the product – but at very least you need to understand what an App might do for you to know whether you can find one or not. You need to know your problem to find a potential solution.
But what if an App store were tailored to particular types of people: an App store that specialised in “stocking” Apps of relevance to, say, fathers in their early 40s. Or people working in management roles in the IT industry. Or Watford fans, for example? Then I would be able to find things that might be of use to me without having to understand what it was I was looking for. Discovering things would become easier, as long as I could find stores that were relevant to me.
But then extend that out into the physical world of retail… why do we generally only find shops today that are either based on stocking particular genres of products (bookshops, clothes shops, food shops etc), or stock everything to sell to everyone (supermarkets and department stores)? Well, because that is the way it’s always been done, I guess.
I’m sure that there are more, but one example of a store that breaks this mold is Urban Outfitters – stockists of all that the wannabe urban hipster needs, from skinny jeans to Lomo cameras. Might this customer-centricity be the the way in which retail as a physical experience can survive?