This weeks blog post required us to visit Bristol’s shopping headquarters Cabot Circus. We were asked to pick a theme for our blog post which explores the role of media in public spaces. I decided to look at the ways in which companies use their stores to capture our attention and increasingly try to become part of our personal media use.
The introduction of internet and more recently smart phones has forced retailers to change the way in which they use their shop fronts. At every opportunity they are trying to gain access to our online world. The social networking sites who’s apps are a necessity on most young adults smart phones are highlighted in nearly every store that I pass. This is a free way to advertise for high street shops and also a method of advertising that can be very successful as the people that follow the stores already have some interest in what the they have to offer therefore they will be more inclined to make a purchase after reading a post on Facebook or a Tweet from these stores. These tweets and posts can also be reposted or shared by the user allowing the stores to be seen by people that may not normally take notice of them.
Another interesting feature I saw in quite a few shop windows was the option to ‘Click and Collect’. This is new way of buying products, the idea is to order a product online and instead of having the product delivered to your home address . I myself see this as a way of the companies getting customers back into store. Less and less people are visiting stores and we are overwhelmed with pictures of boarded up shop fronts on high streets. Offering the customer this free option appears to be saving customers money and could appear as a convenient option if you are working all day, but once you are in store the company can encourage you to buy even more products from them. This is a very good way of improving the relationship of high street and online shopping.
I also walked past a store that wasn’t open but in the had a giant advertising board covering the shop front advertising the brand. I didn’t know the brand ‘Pull and Bear’ the advert tells you to “SHOP AT PULLANDBEAR.COM” the company are confident that the advertisement will entice you and encourage you to explore the website in time for the shop opening, which I myself actually did do. This is another way of improving the online/high street relationship by asking the consumer to explore the website before you visit the store.
Habermas’ work regarding the public sphere is interesting to include when looking at the new ways in which the public sphere works to gain our focus. “The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public.”(Habermas, 1991). This explains that the public sphere is a place where private people come to discuss and debate public matters. The shop fronts that are constantly engaging with us are doing so because they know that this is going to be what we are discussing with others in the public sphere. This is also expanded onto the online public sphere, so in 21st century it is hard not to be influenced by the public sphere as we are engaging with it more than ever.
After exploring Bristol’s most popular shopping destination it is clear that their aim is to utilise the internet and not try and ignore it. Combining both online and high street shopping will save the bigger stores from shutting down; also using the social networking sites to advertise to and gain consumers will benefit both the high street and online sides of companies.
Habermas, J. (1991) The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. : MIT Press.