News that Frasers Group is opening a new flagship Birmingham store to include Sports Direct, USC, Evans Cycles and GAME, as well as an e-sports arena, demonstrates a bold approach for driving footfall throughout 2021.
While the location-based attributes of this format might be challenging, where securing space is concerned – this store covers over 60,000 feet – the focus on driving customer convenience and meeting contemporary needs is undeniable. With that said, the boldness in what some might see as a dilution the individual experiences of these brands into one outlet, is a risky one that will need to be backed up by the right level of supply chain agility.
Combing back-end efforts to achieve this is no mean feat. Simply in practical terms, this will require a huge amount of warehouse and delivery-focused consolidation, to ensure that a centralised service is provided for every brand that is in store. Also, the efficiencies that now exist within warehouse settings, where the links to store needs for replenishment are concerned are highly now technological and will also require combining an utilisation for the same reason.
Department stores have always offered customers multiple brands under one roof, much like their online ‘platform’ competitors but in recent years have failed to provide the same customer experience as the online platforms and have suffered due to pressures on rent and then the pandemic. To drive footfall, Fraser Group will also need to capitalise on what it can offer shoppers in a ‘real world’ environment to enhance customer experience which the online retailers cannot offer when selling remotely
While the potential to achieve these requirements clearly exists within the operational and innovation based attributes of Fraser Group, it will be interesting to see how they go on to back up this attempt at redefining physical retail, and whether their successes will act as best practice for the future or a lesson to learn.