Monday, November 7, 2022

Experimental Retail Experience: Digitizing retail with personal shopping

Image Source:   bonprix Handelsgesellschaft mbH
From: Pavlos Tsulfaidis

A functioning retail channel makes it easy for consumers to order products online, especially if they already know what they want. Retailers need to offer additional services to increase customer traffic in offline channels. Interactive flagship stores like those of bonprix can provide a unique brand experience by showing what the brand stands for and what it has to offer. Through the use of numerous technologies, a visit to a traditional merchandise store can become a memorable experience.

In-store digital offerings, smart services and connectivity channels turn product presentation and interaction into a experience. Flagship stores become a place to socialize and experience the brand in a unique way. With the customer at the center, now is the time to invest in the right technology and rethink and restructure operations to meet changing demand and consumer expectations.

Within reach, yet so far away - fewer stores, more online stores

The bonprix company is active in around 30 countries and sells its goods in this country via online stores and print catalogs. The fashion retailer has existed since 1986 and sells private labels such as bpc selection and Rainbow. In the middle of next year, bonprix will open its flagship store "Fashion Connect" in Hamburg and focus entirely on online business in the future, burying what I think is an exciting multichannel project.  

In Hamburg, the pilot store was opened at the beginning of 2019. Since then, a retail concept has been tested on site, with digital customer services supporting in-store shopping.

A few years ago, the bonprix store network was reduced and the small stores in Germany and other European countries were closed. In Germany, there were still some megastores and several outlet stores, but they have since been closed.

In the first half of the current fiscal year 2022/2023, i.e., the period from the beginning of March to the end of August, net sales across all countries and sales channels amounted to just over 920 million euros. Compared to the previous year, however, this represents a decline of just under eleven percent.

"As a fashion company, we are also not spared from the declining purchasing power and the reluctance of consumers to spend," Kai Heck, Managing Director bonprix

It is true that bonprix has now achieved single- to double-digit growth in many foreign markets. However, in Germany, the core market of the Otto subsidiary, there was a decline in sales of almost 13 percent. According to bonprix, German consumers are holding back on fashion purchases because of rising energy costs and inflation.

Use digitization as an opportunity and turn stores into showrooms

There is no doubt that the last two years have been particularly challenging for retailers. Unprecedented situations caused the industry to change and adapt quickly to meet changing consumer demand. Store closures led to a huge increase in e-commerce, and retailers scrambled to provide the best possible experience for consumers.

Even if bonprix's original plan did not work out, both wholesalers and especially retailers can draw their conclusions retail concepts and thus prepare for the future.   Indeed, the centerpiece here was an in-house smartphone app. A step that many companies (still) shy away from. With this app, the customer is able to read the QR codes to scan, which are on the textiles in the store. In the store itself, the customer cannot choose between different sizes, as is familiar from fashion stores. Instead, each item is presented only once - in one size!

The whole thing is intended to give the flagship store a " showroom character " and save customers from having to search for the right sizes on site. If the customer scans the QR code of an item, he will be offered all the garments available in the store. He then finds these in the selected size in a changing room. In the meantime, the customer can pass the time waiting with a free drink in a lounge.

As soon as the personal changing room is prepared with the desired sizes, a message appears in the app. All items scanned by the customer are stored in it and thus in the shopping cart. This is automatically updated when the customer Dressing Room. Only the items that the customer wants to take with them are displayed in the app's shopping cart.

The whole thing is only made possible because all textiles carry a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip . When the customer has completed his purchase, he can pay for it directly in the app via PayPal. Of course, the customer can pay for their purchase at a Cashier or use a self-checkout if he wants to pay by debit/credit card.  

If one chooses PayPal as a payment method, one can simply leave the flagship store. Purchasing in the app automatically unlocks the merchandise and thus the RFID, and the customer no longer has to go to the checkout.

Personalization and interaction are the shopping of the future

Flagship stores of well-known brands such as Apple, Audi and H&M not only draw more attention to retail again. They represent the shopping experience of tomorrow and show the possibilities from which store operators today derive little or no benefit . This is especially true when it comes to presenting products, inspiring customers and building their long-term loyalty to the company, and transparently passing on information to the end consumer. Through interactive modules and large-format visualizations the customer experience in retail operations becomes even more attractive. However, many screens only serve as a transmitter to the customer and do not offer a return channel. A large part of the clientele nowadays moves on the Internet or has even grown up with it.

The buying behavior has changed a lot!

That's why it's essential for salespeople and retailers to convince and inspire not only with the products, but also with the journey to To convince and inspire purchase conclusion.

Searching for information on the net before buying a new car or comparing the price of the respective item of clothing across platforms has become the norm. It is normal to interact with the product and to be the determining factor when viewing information. That's what your customers will be placing more value on, not only in the future, but already now!

2023 will be a pivotal year for retailers as they will need to quickly adapt to changing consumer behaviors and expectations and transform their business processes to provide a secure, sustainable and personalized buying experience to provide.   At Smartstore, we work on exactly these retail concepts, for which we have the appropriate technologies and know exactly what retailers need to keep their customers' brand loyalty high.  

Contact us to learn more about how we can help! To do so, use the contact form, write an e-mail to or call us. From Monday to Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., you can reach us at +49 231 5335 0.

Leave your comment

Comments (1)

Guest | 4 months ago

Die Otto-Tochter Bonprix spricht von einem weltweit "einzigartigen" Store, der das Einkaufen "neu erfunden" haben soll. In der Tat schafft er das Meisterstück, sämtliche Vorzüge des stationären Einkaufs zu vereinen. Nachdem ich letztes Jahr dort eingekauft habe, kann ich das bestätigen. Schade, dass dieser innovative Store jetzt geschlossen wird. Dr. Anja Christmann