Tesco + Facebook = The end of high street shopping?

In Marketing, Online on March 1, 2012 at 9:07 pm

According to the wordcloud on my blog, two of the things I like talking about the most are Tesco and Facebook, so there’s no surprise that this article caught my attention:

Tesco launches Facebook-based virtual fitting room


In one of my previous posts, I posited the idea that as soon as large retailers, like Tesco, start to properly adapt to and exploit social media channels like Facebook, all forms of physical shopping – malls and out of town, too, not just the High Street – would be in real trouble.

(Read the previous post here: FB hoax – the online mall and why Facebook will never charge you)

Here’s the final paragraph from that post:

“People still like to meet people, and clothes shopping particularly requires physical interaction, and is a very social experience, but FB is so near to being able to offer a similar experience that the shopping malls – especially the smaller regional ones – should really start to worry.  Just as malls killed off the High Street, maybe online will kill off the mall?”

Well, today’s announcement seems to even begin to tackle this basic need for ‘physical interaction’ by taking it all online.  I think it’s interesting that Tesco in particular have developed this ‘online fitting room’ given that I’m not sure they even have physical fitting rooms in their stores. Theirs is not high fashion – it’s based on “it’s cheap, so even if it doesn’t fit me properly, it’s no real loss”, so really Tesco are looking to radically increase the levels of social interaction involved in buying their clothes. Do you know anyone who’s ever been on a genuine clothes shopping trip, with friends, to a supermarket?

This is why this announcement is a double threat to physical shopping. Not only are they looking to move clothes shopping online, by launching on Facebook and including social sharing, they are looking to directly attack the ‘social shopping’ experiences that traditional fashion outlets like River Island, H&M & Topshop (forgive me if I’m out of touch with female fashion brands – I’m a 32 year old man) can offer. Forget that Tesco currently sell manky clothes – this can easily change, and the power of market research information they will get from social sharing and commenting will help them do this rapidly (note how Primark managed to gain press attention by offering a few ‘designer’ items in amongst their other pap).

The High Street is a 70s concept that was destroyed by the Mall in the 90s. Now the combination of a severe and long-lasting recession, and the maturation of online retail across a wide range of sectors and age groups, will I believe, start to kill off the Mall by the time the decade’s out.

Physical spaces have to think of something else to do. Something that is unique, that there is a high demand for in the UK, but an undersupply. Something which is highly social, but definitely requires the physical body to experience.

I’ve got 2 words for you.



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