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The Future of Shopping
JLA: Have you learned anything new from this recession?
MP: The past twelve months have shifted how people shop - irreversibly
JLA: How do you re-build confidence and re-kindle ambition?
MP: With innovation and bags of trust
JLA: Can start-ups compete with established chains?
MP: Only in areas where they genuinely offer something different
JLA: How do you see social networking and online impacting on the high street?
MP: The winning brands will ultimately and seamlessly merge their online and offline offer. Retailers will realise the web offers a potential way beyond a simple sales channel - creating dialogue, brand immersion and a right of reply that has hitherto been extremely difficult.
JLA: Which business models are most likely to thrive in the next few years?
MP: The experiential, the avuncular, the collaborative and the value orientated.
SECRETS FOR THE ULTIMATE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Can you judge a shop by its window?
Yes, window displays are very revealing - they should seduce you. The ideal shopping experience should be as pleasurable as possible, and if the windows don't entice you in, don't bother crossing the threshold.
How can customers get good service?
We've fallen out of our love affair with fast, fast fashion, based on buying as quickly and cheaply as you can in stores like Primark. Instead, we're demanding more service and knowledge from sales assistants.
The growth of the Internet means that shopping needs to be a truly social, interactive activity in order to compete with all the information we have at our fingertips. Department stores such as John Lewis, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Harrods have really cottoned on to this need. We're also starting to buy less, relying more on quality. If you don't get good service, don't hand over your money. To get it, ask questions and be ethical in your shopping.
Best shopping strategy?
Know what you need. Plan in advance and focus on what you want. If you're after a particular item of clothing, and you find something you love, then buy it - but if you are not sure, look elsewhere. If you still want it at the end of the day, buy it then. Don't buy on impulse. Avoid shopping on a Saturday if possible because it's a bunfight. Shops tend to get new deliveries on Tuesdays or Thursdays so try to go mid-week.
When is it ok to ask for a discount?
Always, as long as it's reasonable. In smaller, privately owned boutiques, avoid asking for a discount for the sake of it, because a price is a price, and shop owners can get upset. But if the item's damaged, of course ask. In larger stores, only the manager can authorise a discount, so ask to speak to him or her.
How can I spot bargains in the sales?
To get the best bargains, visit stores you don't normally shop in, in different towns, to find cut-price, hidden treasures. For example, I've found some great bargains on Jil Sander pieces in Harvey Nichols in Leeds, because the ladies who shop there tend to favour other designers, such as Roberto Cavalli.
What shops do you love?
John Lewis - the staff have great knowledge and offer great service. For the same reasons, I think Waitrose is the best food shop. Other personal favourites are Selfridges, where you'll always find what you're after, be it shoes or a suit. I also love Liberty because it touches all the senses.
Who inspires you most in retail?
Urban Outfitters is a very clever business, placing its twenty-something customers at the heart. You want to hang out there, thanks to its music, the decor, gifts and fashion. Similarly, the new Banana Republic that's just opened on Regent Street knows its market. That's the key to successful retailing.
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