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Selling the experience

100 years ago our great-grandparents bought their goods at the local store, from a shopkeeper who knew the family well and could offer a personal, tailored service. Customers were a community, and shopping was an experience.

Then came the age of the supermarket. Decades of anonymity and obscurity; of faceless corporations and impersonal interactions. Shopping as endurance, not enjoyment.

Now, breakthroughs in technology are putting the customer at the centre of the retail experience again, with differentiation, customisation and community as the watchwords. Concept stores, which present shopping as lifestyle choice and place great emphasis on design and service, are becoming more and more prevalent.

YME in Oslo is a good example. Founded by Nicolai Schaanning Larsen with a vision to inspire customers “with a full emotional and sensory experience”, the store offers hand-picked, high-end products from across Europe and blurs the lines between fashion, art, interiors and design.

A feature of concept stores is their unashamed determination to appeal to a particular group of consumers, as Kaktus København in Copenhagen illustrates. The store sells cacti – and that’s it. Cacti in all shapes and sizes. It won’t appeal to everyone, but then that’s part of the point.

YME image: YME