Is the inner city showroom a sustainable business?

Photo by: Håkan Dahlström

Online shopping is growing at a rapid pace here in Sweden. At the same time we’re seeing strong competiton amongst shopping malls, all fighting for the same customers. Where I live, in Malmö in southern Sweden, more than 300 new stores have opened in about a year, with the mighty Emporia as the main growth factor.

Problem is of course that the customers are moving over to the internet. With 15-20% yearly growth of online shopping, you don’t have to gaze too far in to the future to see a major chunk of the consumer money going from the stores in the malls to the web.

So what happens to the store as we know it?

One idea I’ve been toying around with for some time is the inner city showroom. A place where you can test, touch and try things but not actually buy them. More like an exhibition than a shop. Of course there would be internet terminals in the room where you could buy, from associated online shops, but you wouldn’t be able to buy stuff over the counter.

How does this place make money? It could charge money from the online stores, either as a sort of rent for their products to be shown or as an affiliate when people buy things. It could even charge the visitors. After all, people pay to visit exhibitions.

Don’t know if it would work but I think it’s high times for anyone working with physical stores to consider their future in a world where most of the consumers money is spent online.

What do you think? Is it a feasible idea? Perhaps it’s already been tried somewhere?

One comment

  1. Alexander

    It’s a cool idea. The showroom would not have to keep around very many duplicate items, so they could carry a lot of different brands instead. Also, they would never run out of odd shoe sizes and things like that.

    Imagine going to a showroom which carries all sizes and all brands. As you try things on, you scan a QR code with your phone and stuff is added to your basket. At the end, the show room backend charges your CC and then divvies up your order and makes sure the right items are sent from the right brand warehouse. All automated, of course.

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