Hamleys Rides on the “Retailtainment” Trend with Its Newest Retail Space Dedicated to Gaming

Utku Tansel has 18 years of success in driving global thought leadership, project and content management, delivering strategic business intelligence and insight to major international companies. Throughout his career, he has led many global research programs across a wide range of diverse and dynamic industries including Toys & Games, Licensed Consumer Products, Consumer Electronics, Apparel & Footwear, Homewares & Home Furnishings, and Personal Accessories & Eyewear. With solid market research background, Utku regularly writes for leading industry publications including Global Toy News, where he is a permanent author, focusing on the most recent trends and developments. A sought-after speaker, he also presented at world-renowned industry events including PlayCon, Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, World Congress of Play, Walmart Global Toy Summit, and Licensing International Mind Mix Executive Conference highlighting key findings from the latest global research studies

Hamleys’ new highly immersive and interactive gaming area in its flagship store on Regent Street, London is a clear testament to the rise of the ‘Retailtainment’ store concept in retail. The store experience is one of Hamleys’ USPs differentiating it from rivals making its outlets a destination in their own right. This approach also enables the company to command high prices.

As I also explored in my “Hamleys: An Iconic UK Toy Retailer at Crossroads” Opinion piece in Global Toy News previously, like many stores deemed non-essential closed to curb the spread of COVID-19 around the world, its London flagship store was forced to close during lockdowns and even when trading, the lack of tourism and lower consumer footfall have made a big impact on sales while the big chunk of office workers have continued to stay away. Despite the gloomy brick-and-mortar sales, it was reported that Hamleys’ online sales have been ‘through the roof’. The retailer was a relative latecomer to multichannel retailing, which means rivals have managed to bypass it with stronger cross-channel propositions.

COVID-19 and confinement measures have accentuated many consumers’ cravings for experiences and entertainment. In an era where the price can often seem like the deciding factor, a return to experiences may be more welcome than ever. To combat the stay-at-home-or-stay-online mentality, retailers must all pay heed. They need to extend their offer beyond mere retail and act as a venue, not just a shop. Investments in human resources need to deliver the differentiation of a ‘human touch’ and stores need to avoid ‘showrooming’ through initiatives like redeemable in-store credits and in-store exclusives.

As highlighted in Mintel Trend Experience Is All, consumers still value the advantages of shopping in-store, which include the ability to try products in person and to be helped by customer service associates. This trend is not about countering online sales, but rather turning shops into enjoyable experiences that promote purchases—either in-store or remotely.

Shops are windows and adverts as much as places to purchase stock and they need to extend the time people spend there as well as the frequency of their visits. Online and physical are complementary to each other and Mintel Traditional Toys & Games, US, 2020 report showcases that retailers looking to boost online purchases will need to create the feeling of shopping in-store by giving shoppers a more tactile experience and demonstrating the quality of products available.

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