Hotter hikes tech and digital focus in stores, opens first-ever pop-up
A first ever pop-up store, a major tech-inspired refurb to one of its high street flagships and the launch of digital kiosks in a nationwide garden centre group reflects the experiential direction Hotter Shoes continues to explore.
The initiatives form part of the firm’s ‘Retail 2.0’ strategy “in response to changing high street and consumer needs” while offering “bespoke shoe fitting experiences using the latest precision fitting technology in-store, online and within its app”, the company said.
First the pop-up. The footwear brand’s first-ever temporary store has opened in Manchester’s Trafford Centre to cover the Christmas shopping period.
Throughout November and December, the unit will offer customers the chance to accurately measure their feet on its “industry-leading” Footprint 3D Scanner, which offer precision foot measuring via 3D technology. This will be supported by trained technicians and customers will then be able to purchase items online, for delivery to their home.
Alongside this, the retailer is also preparing to reopen a fully-refitted 1,000 sq ft Solihull store at the end of the month. It will boast new technology, including motion mapping, “providing an immersive digital experience for customers to interact with products”. It also adds “bespoke shoe fitting experiences using the latest precision fitting technology in-store, online and within its app”, Hotter said.
Stores which are re-fitted will have new layouts designed to encourage customers to use the technology. This will include seating areas with iPads and large touchscreen pods as well as its Footprint 3D Scanner machines.
The store redesign also sees each unit "holding less inventory while maximising expert advice", it noted.
In a partnership with nationwide garden centre group Notcutts, Hotter also plans to open digital kiosks in selected locations as part of its overall plan to reach new customers while adapting the way it interacts with customers.
Hotter said it’s another channel that’s accelerating its digital-first transformation introduced in 2020 that has now seen 90% of all new customers acquired through its digital channels.
Victoria Betts, Chief Commercial Officer at Hotter, also noted that around 40% of in-store orders are now ordered directly from its warehouse and the retailer expects this to rise "with the continuation of our Retail 2.0 strategy”.
She added: “The transformation of our physical store network, alongside opening up pop-up units and garden centre digital kiosks, is about adapting the way we interact with customers as they continually seek more from in-person shopping experiences.
“Change in the retail sector is happening at a phenomenal pace and we’re continually innovating and refreshing. This strategy perfectly complements our digital-first approach, which has been embraced by customers and staff, allowing us to deliver high quality products direct to doors and support Hotter’s growth even through the Coronavirus lockdowns.”
Claiming to lead the market in comfort footwear, selling 1.3 million pairs of shoes a year, Hotter has reported strong trading this year, with an overall global sales growth of 25% in the first six months of 2021, "despite the tough retail conditions".
Its parent company, Unbound Group, also announced it will list on the AIM market in Q4.
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