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John Ryan

Hybrid Store Situ Live Advances Digital Journey

The phygital concept is part showroom, part IRL website

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Just opened in London is Situ Live, in the Westfield London shopping center. The point about mentioning this is not because a new store has opened in the U.K. capital – this does happen – but because of what it represents as far as progress on the digital train journey is concerned.

Situ Live is in fact a 7500-square-foot, single-floor space in the heart of one of London’s highest profile shopping destinations. It is a quasi-showroom, rather than a store, and as such, it might bear comparison to b8ta, Everlane or perhaps Glossier’s Seattle location. But it is in fact different from all of these.

Visitors to this ‘store’ will be able to look at a series of big brand products but not buy them. Instead, an invitation is extended to shoppers to scan a QR code attached to each item and save it in the ‘favorites’ area of their mobile device. Having been visually tempted, the idea is that the shopper, rather than buying in-store, will consider the proposition at leisure and then, presumably, make a purchase.

All of the brands in the store are profit centers in their own right, and the whole enterprise has a somewhat futuristic, whizzy feel to it. The question perhaps then is, what is this? Is it a website offering better-end products brought to tangible life? Or is this a showroom filled with goods more usually perused online (which is the underlying idea of the first U.K. Amazon 4-star store, which opened in the Bluewater mall, southeast of London, last week), but which can now be examined up close and personal?

It’s actually quite hard to define, but there are, in fact, elements of both. The term “phygital” has been much overused during the course of the last couple of years, but this really is…and it has the potential to attract shoppers in a way that might not have been considered possible only a short while ago.

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John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.

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