Missguided is, without a doubt, one of my favourite online stores. Whether I am shopping for fashion or beauty, it’s my go-to store. It has a wide range of products, it’s designed specifically for my age group, it’s convenient, affordable, and offers a vast range of clothing styles.
A UK-based, multi-channel retailer that sells clothes, shoes and makeup aimed at women aged 16 to 35-years old, with a focus on ‘fast fashion’, Missguided offers a wide range of collections, which include tall, petite, and plus-size fashion. (Missguided, no date)
What’s interesting about Missguided in regards to their business model is the fact that unlike the majority of stores that go from bricks and mortar to digital, such as New Look, for instance, Missguided has gone the other way. They first launched an e-commerce store, and then when they found that their brand was highly successful, they chose to launch their very first physical store. Compared to most successful fashion retailers this is a seen as being a backward approach, and yet it has been a highly effective one.
Choosing to open physical stores in an economy where the amount of consumers who shop on the high street is decreasing, with consumers instead choosing to shop online, could be seen as a strange business choice, particularly in terms of justifying costs. (Cartner-Morley, 2019) Particularly when you consider the fact that digital stores offer fantastic chances for the reduction of costs in comparison to physical stores and the fact that they offer a more convenient shopping experience.
What should also be considered in regards to physical vs. digital stores is generational shifts – such as in regards to Baby Boomers vs. Millenials, as the below infographic from Nextopia discusses.
It’s easier to argue the benefit for going from physical to digital, such as increasing sales, widening customer base, and reducing costs, but it’s far more complex to justify going from e-commerce to physical, as Missguided has done. Boohoo, for instance, opened a physical store in the US and found that this store was operating at a loss. However, the brand still classed this as a success, as it meant that they built brand awareness on a global scale.
Since launching in 2009, Missguided has experienced extremely rapid growth in the UK, also expanding to the US, Australia, France and Germany. In June 2015, Missguided launched a concession at Selfridges Trafford Centre, which it still has, followed by a second in Selfridges Manchester Exchange Square in November of that year, and the third opening in Birmingham in March 2016.
Missguided also has two of their own physical stores – their flagship store at Westfield Stratford City in London and at Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent. (Missguided, no date)
What’s incredible about Missguided’s flagship store is the fact that it has been designed to perfectly blend digital presence with physical presence, creating the ultimate customer experience. (Rigby, 2017)
As a consumer, I personally believe that Missguided’s approach to creating physical stores was an extremely bold one. They didn’t choose to open physical stores purely to increase sales, as even without physical stores their sales for the tax year ending in March 2015 – before they launched any physical stores – was £4.7 million which represented an increase of 409% on the year before. (Frost, 2016) Missguided launched stores to create a new platform and offer a physical customer experience.
The flagship store has been designed to promote moments that are ‘Instagrammable”, with social media also playing a key part in the experience that Missguided offers its customers at its Westfield store. The concept that the brand has chosen to focus on is blurring the lines that appear between physical and digital, with the overall aim being to create more opportunities for conversations with their customers. (Rigby, 2017)
With more than 3.7 million social media followers who are actively engaging with the brand online on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, Missguided have tapped into an area of marketing that very few retailers are currently utilising – the entire concept of blurring the lines between digital and physical is incredible, and in my opinion has an extremely powerful impact.
Of course, what it’s essential to bear in mind is that for Missguided, the promotional power of opening physical stores is also a key factor, which is where their unique concept to create stores that make blending physical with digital easier, came into play.
In comparison to digital stores, physical ones offer a certain ambiance and gratification which is closely linked to the process of being able to actually touch the products on offer. (Misra, Baranwal, and Jha, 2017) These factors contribute to offering a unique shopping experience, which is exactly what Missguided has aimed to offer.
A common trend for businesses that have both digital and physical stores is that consumers may choose to go to a physical store to view products and attain information about them, afterward buying the product online to reduce costs, as often online stores offer lower prices and a larger amount of deals than physical ones. (Kuksov and Liao, 2018)
As a blogger (and a consumer), this is something that personally I can relate to, as I know that myself – and the wider blogging community – would be far more inclined to visit a store that has Instagrammable properties, rather than just a simple store, such as what the likes of retailers that began with physical stores rather than digital ones, like New Look and Topshop offer.
According to Keller (2016), digital media, when used alongside traditional media has allowed companies to increase sales and brand awareness in ways that have never been seen before. Missguided communicates with consumers not only via their website, app, email campaigns and social media but now also via their digitally enhanced stores that blend traditional and digital together.
When I visited the Missguided flagship store I was amazed at how incredible it was and how carefully blended the digital and the physical were. There were two floor-to-ceiling high screens at the doors to the store, starting the digitally immersive experience from when you first step through the door, with another screen located near the cash registers that showcase all of the most recent campaigns.
What I noticed was that each photo or video I took and posted along with tagging Missguided and using their hashtag, it got a like, share or comment from the Missguided social team, enhancing the immersive experience further. This is a clear example of how this brand utilises user-generated content to help boost their success.
While Missguided’s stores are incredibly designed and well thought out in terms of innovation, like all fast fashion retailers with physical locations, there’s a concern to consider relating to waste.
Interestingly, Missguided was named as one of the top two least sustainable fashion brands in the UK, alongside competing brand, Boohoo, in a report published by the Environmental Audit Committee. (Petter, 2019) This was performed as part of the government’s inquiry into the ‘fast fashion’ business model that many clothing brands – both physical and digital – use.
There are concerns linking to the environmental impact of overconsumption and large carbon footprints that many fashion retailers have. However, what it’s important to consider is that although physical stores have a seemingly large amount of waste, both digital and physical stores play a role in overconsumption within the fashion industry. Brands that were praised – both digital and physical stores – use recycled materials for clothing, limited the use of hazardous chemicals, and re-used and recycled unsold stock.
Something that I noticed when I was invited on a tour of Missguided’s ‘mega warehouse’ in Manchester as part of a blogger collaboration, was the fact that their skips outside of the warehouse were packed full of returned clothing that had been damaged or deemed not saleable for another purpose. This suggests that in many instances, digital stores may have more waste – or just as much waste – as physical ones.
It’s clear that while many brands that begin as physical ones, like New Look, benefit from the added promotional opportunities and cost reductions that a digital store offers, it is not so clear how primarily digital stores, like Missguided, Asos and Boohoo benefit from opening physical stores, particularly when you consider how high street purchasing is declining.
Petter, O. (2019, January 31). Boohoo and Missguided among worst offenders in sustainability inquiry. Retrieved February 1, 2019, from https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/fast-fashion-boohoo-missguided-brands-sustainability-environmental-audit-committee-2019-a8754496.html
Frost, R. (2016, January 12). Profits up as Missguided eyes overseas push. Retrieved February 1, 2019, from https://www.insidermedia.com/insider/northwest/profits-jump-five-fold-at-missguided
Rigby, C. (2017, January 9) How Missguided is bringing digital into its new store. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2019, from https://internetretailing.net/themes/themes/how-missguided-is-bringing-digital-into-its-new-store-15605
Cachero-Martínez, S. & Vázquez-Casielles, R. (2018). Developing the Marketing Experience to Increase Shopping Time: The Moderating Effect of Visit Frequency.
Kuksov, D. & Liao, C. (2018). When Showrooming Increases Retailer Profit. Journal of Marketing Research
Misra, P., Baranwal, S. & Jha, M. (2017). Brick and mortar store vs. online shopping experience: a study. International Journal of Information Technology & Management