The experience of shopping on Oxford Street can be frustrating at best - sweaty, rage-inducing and exhausting at worst.

So, stepping into Dyson’s new flagship store is a rather calming experience in comparison.

The brand's very first brick-and-mortar store to open in the UK, it is a conceptual space designed to offer consumers a ‘hands on’ shopping experience.

Similarly, it’s yet another example of retail stores bridging the gap between the digital and physical experience. (Note I did not say ‘phygital’… that ever-so-divisive word).

But is it a gimmick, or is it really a rather lovely way to purchase a vacuum cleaner? 

Here’s a run-down of what the store has got to offer.

Customer-centric experience

As well as some fancy technology, the first thing that strikes you when walking into the Dyson store is a number of rather important-looking people standing around.

These are Dyson ‘experts’ – people that are not just employed to sell you a product, but to offer demonstrations and speak in-depth about the science behind them. 

For the average shopper, i.e. the kind of person who might pop in to have a browse out of curiosity or mild interest, this presence could prove slightly off-putting. After all, there’s nothing worse than feeling out-of-place in a shop. 

But on the other hand, for anyone actually interested in purchasing a Dyson product, it certainly signals a focus on meeting the customer’s needs.

With instant and one-to-one interaction, it brings to mind the sort of service (and attention) that you get in a car showroom – something that’s obviously lacking in the world of ecommerce.

Integrating digital

Whether or not you’re determined to buy a Dyson product, the demonstration aspect of the store is hard to resist. 

Whether it’s an air-purifier or a cordless-vacuum, staff are ready and waiting to give demonstrations – even allowing you to choose between the type of dust or dirt you’d like to hoover up. 

When it comes to giving the customer a comprehensive overview of a product, it certainly beats any 360-degree video you might come across online.

But if you like that sort of thing, you won’t be disappointed with a lack of digital integration - the store is covered in screens, further emphasising its high-tech nature.

Try before you buy

While the ground floor is exciting, I was most impressed by the Supersonic salon – a mock-up hair salon on the first floor that offers visitors the chance to test-drive the brand new Dyson hairdryer.

With an appointment booking system on Eventbrite, it is the gimmickiest part of the store. And yet, it’s undeniably smart. 

If you’re serious about spending almost £300 on a hairdryer, why on earth wouldn’t you want to take the time to test it out? 

What’s more, you’re probably rather curious to learn why it costs so much – which means hearing about the complex engineering behind each product will be music to your ears. 

In conclusion

With its slick design and hand-on approach, the new Dyson flagship sort of feels like the Apple store, but a bit fancier and more educational.

Located just across the road from Selfridges (where another creative shopping space has also just launched), it’s certainly worth a visit if you're on the look-out for a new Dyson.

But even if you’re not, it might be worth popping in for a nosey anyway...

By focusing on how products work as well as what they do, it provides a far more interesting experience than the majority of its neighbouring stores.

And just finally, it's worth noting that Dyson hasn't installed any self-serve kiosks or touchscreens, which had threatened to be one of the big retail trends of recent years.

Maybe retailers have realised that most people don't want to go in-store to browse products on an iPad?

For more on this topic, see:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 12 July, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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