Moo.com, the online printer, has opened up a physical shop in the Boxpark pop up mall of London’s Shoreditch. The temporary strip mall is a haven for hip brands to experiment with retail, as we saw when Nike took up residence.
Last year we covered the Wired store in London which brought the atmosphere and ideas of the magazine and all of the magical gadgets it presents into the real world. It seems that taking online presences offline is a strong trend and Moo has gone one step further by recreating its own Web site through neat interactive installations.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Moo’s Director of Marketing, Paul Lewis gave The Next Web a tour, “We’ve taken our digital service and moved it into the real world,” he explained. “Though sadly we are seeing many brand name shops go under, this does mean that the meaning of the high street is changing for people. It gives opportunities to smaller businesses and startups.”
It’s an interesting idea. Though many independent stores have disappeared from the high street, big name brands like HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster have also vanished, as shoppers look to online sources and habits change. To bring familiar brands from our online world to our environments in the real world, could be a smart way to strengthen customer loyalty.
Ebay experimented with a pop-up presence in London last year to put the brand in the public eye for Christmas. It was a smart, temporary move to promote its services in an area that would not usually put the idea into shopper’s minds. The Moo store will be in place until July, which naturally provides more time for people to explore.
“We’ve replicated the website offline,” explains Lewis. “We’ve even recreated our home page,” he points to a display on the wall with pull cords and panels. It does indeed look like the Moo.com home page complete with drop down menus and left to right scrolling. The experience is one of a puppet performance that recreates the company’s site in a cute papery way.
Next to the home page is a screen and headphones with a reel-to-reel set up so that visitors can hear customer testimonies from various businesses that use Moo cards. Taking a website and working it out in a physical sense is a playful idea and it works well in the tiny shop, giving it a hand-made and analogue feel.
New toys on show
Moo acquired Flavours.me last year and this service also has a three-dimensional presence in the store that visitors can interact with. A photo booth with curtains allows people to have a photo taken and kickstart their Flavours identity online right there in the shop.
Much of the store also works as a showcase for products. But if you’re unsure of how best to make the most of the printing service, the ‘Inspiration’ part of Moo’s website has also been recreated. Examples of stickers cards and prints are on display from businesses that have chosen the service to further their brand.
Moo carries many stock print designs that customers can choose from if they don’t have their own in mind. The store is not much bigger than the cards the company prints, but there is plenty on show. This has become a part of the store via a panel near the door where visitors can choose from a menu selection that describes their business, style or tone and the best matches for those choices light up so that the examples can be explored by hand.
On each example in the store, the gap between digital and real worlds is bridged via NFC and QR codes so that visitors can bookmark the things that they like and come back to it later. Naturally this fits rather well with the recent launch of Moo’s NFC business card app and the cards that will soon follow as part of the company’s Luxe range.
Rather than just running the shop as a promotional tool, community events are planned for the near future that will be streamed online. The first event will be run by Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation who will be hosting a session with four steps to starting a business. Other companies are scheduled to appear to provide talks about business strategies and PR and there will also be design workshops for visitors who would like to get involved.
The transformation from digital realm to physical world was pushed by Moo’s creative director Matt Grey. From planning to presentation with the creative team, put the store together in a month and a half. The team itself built the store by hand and will be staffing the shop day-to-day as well.
The shop is somewhat experimental for Moo. Online businesses are usually able to cut overheads by not needing a physical presence to showcase their wares. However Lewis is optimistic about the store and notes that it aids the social side of Moo.
“This is our first endeavour on the UK high street,” he says. “It gives us a new channel to talk to people. If it works, we would consider rolling it out to another area. For now it’s a great way to talk to our customers in a different way. We love that one to one with people.”