Shoe Retailer Replaces Physical Browsing With Digital Selection

Shoe Retailer Replaces Physical Browsing With Digital Selection
Retail

Eobuwie's concept store in Poland trades display tables for tablets to replicate and test e-commerce IRL

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 30 may 2018

The competition for customers has seen both brick-and-mortar and online retailers cross over into each other’s domains. Footwear retailer Eobuwie (owned by CCC, Europe’s largest footwear manufacturer) is testing a new physical store concept that fully merges a physical store experience with online shopping.

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The Eobuwie concept store in Poland was designed to be an easy-to-shop alternative to existing shoe stores. Eobuwie already maintains a successful e-commerce business, and this concept is an experiment to transpose that experience to a physical form. From the outside, however, you wouldn’t immediately be able to tell what the store sells. There’s no physical product displayed whatsoever; instead, large vertical display screens cycle through ads and shoe imagery. People passing by might catch a glimpse of something they like, or maybe not.

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Just inside the entrance is the browsing ‘white room.’ This space replaces the traditional shoe display walls and floor fixtures with touchscreen browsing tables. Gone also are the staff needed to stock and maintain the displays. Here people can scroll through Eobuwie’s collection of 450 brands and 40,000 styles. With that vast number of SKUs, the need to display them virtually is understandable. For customers who know their size and have found the style they like, purchasing can happen right there.

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If there’s a desire to try on a few pairs and compare fit, that happens in an adjacent lounge-like space. Here, staff can personally assist people as in a traditional shoe store. The one difference is that selection is again done through individual touch screens mounted to the upholstered sofas.

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The goal with the design of this space was a more intimate feel to contrast the front browsing area. It has herringbone wood flooring, paneled walls and pendant lighting that creates a residential loft vibe.

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The back of the store houses a stock and distribution area. Here, orders get sorted and delivered to a rack assigned to each customer. The stockroom has a capacity of 110,000 boxes.

The store was designed by Dalziel & Pow, which refers to the concept as “sector-defining” and the “next big thing” in footwear retail. The space looks modern and fresh. The problem, though, is what makes this store experience better than just ordering at home and having the shoes delivered? Since there’s no physical product displayed here, the primary sensory attraction people might have to walking in the store is the space itself. Are digital representations of shoes enough to create an impulse purchase? Is there more effort expended here learning and scrolling through a digital catalog to find shoes and then going through the traditional fitting routine? Does sitting in front of a display at a store beat out browsing on a tablet or laptop at home?

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There’s no question that this concept store takes an adventurous leap with a fashion category. It is dependent on digital content to communicate to people that it sells shoes and not wireless services or home mortgages. And that’s the real test for this concept. Has it gone too far in trying to make the retailer’s vast catalog convenient to shop in a physical space? There might have been an opportunity to focus the physical store on seasonal experiences that amplify the sensory elements of sight and touch relating to real shoes.

Eobuwie


Images: Dalziel & Pow

The competition for customers has seen both brick-and-mortar and online retailers cross over into each other’s domains. Footwear retailer Eobuwie (owned by CCC, Europe’s largest footwear manufacturer) is testing a new physical store concept that fully merges a physical store experience with online shopping.

+apparel
+Design
+Europe
+Fashion
+financial services
+footwear
+home
+Poland
+PSFK Imagery
+retail
+store design
+store experience
+store experience & design
+technology
+Virtual Commerce

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