How experimental retail might transform department stores

The retail industry is a tough place to be right now, with companies being forced to close stores and cut staff number. However, this is not the case for all. Whilst the mid-level department stores such as Debenhams and House of Fraser are reporting losses, those at the top level are thriving. But why?

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All about the experience

The difference between stores such as Marks and Spencer and Selfridges is the customer experience. Those shopping at the high-end department stores are already on the receiving end of luxury services in addition to their shopping needs. Not only do they provide services such as personal shopping and styling, Harrods also houses a salon, wellness clinic and Moroccan Spa within its store. Something that you could currently never imagine seeing in Debenhams.

However, the middle ground department stores are beginning to make a change. John Lewis, in particular, is making a push towards an improvement in the customer experience by trialling luxury services. This includes a concierge service which can make appointments for hair and beauty treatments and the opportunity for shoppers to have the entire store to themselves for a private shopping experience.

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Debenhams also recently revealed that they will be partnering with fitness company Sweat to include gyms in some of the most popular stores. Other department stores are making changes to their in-store services with more exclusive cafes and salons for customers to experience.

What’s next?

The focus on luxury shopping means that we could soon be seeing an influx of additional services popping up in department stores across the country. The popular click and collect service continues to improve, and so for a service such as a same day courier Birmingham shoppers, plus those in other major cities, may be able to take advantage. Until then, companies such as will be able to provide this service to shoppers wanting their items as soon as they possibly can.

Department stores will surely be continuing the focus on providing a community hub feel to their stores with these proposed additional luxury experiences providing more than just a simple shopping service. The introduction of cafes, gyms and salons are the first step but pairing with support organisations to provide resources and information, could soon be a valuable service on the cards.