Due to launch at the beginning of 2014 in London’s Shoreditch and online, Boxpark Market Place is a cashless multichannel shopping mall allowing independent brands to access sophisticated digital solutions without costly set-up fees. The innovative retail experience has been conceived to inspire consumers to buy or share items in store, online and on their mobiles. Here, Boxpark founder Roger Wade introduces the concept, explaining how it will work logistically. Interview by Emma Holmqvist-Deacon

How did the idea behind Boxpark Market Place come about?
The way consumers shop has changed. There is no longer just one type of customer but several, and retailers have to find ways to deal with them all. We like to engage with all consumers and build a relationship with them, possibly doing so before selling anything. One type might enter a shop with no money in his pocket but with the intention to buy something at a later date; another might have no time to shop as he is about to catch a train, while there is also a type of customer who likes to browse for quite sometime and doesn’t want to be approached by staff trying to sell him things. Whatever the case might be, it’s a shame to let the consumer leave the shop without any information or attempt to build a relationship with him. With its multichannel approach, Boxpark Market Place allows customers to discover great independent brands and the product they offer, and then share items they like and access information about them later.

How will you drive customers to the site, and ultimately convert traffic into sales?
Customers like using their mobile phones and the impact of sharing on social media is great. A big UK retailer recently revealed that the average multichannel customer spends 300 per cent more than a customer spending exclusively in-store. This highlights the fact that online shopping is not taking sales from offline – it merely multiplies it and boosts additional purchases. However, few major online shops offer a proper multichannel experience as they tend to lack good curation.
We believe that the future of market places should start with curation, offering great brands with great product – and then inspire people to visit the store and share the product they find online. By encouraging social sharing, the customer will end up creating traffic on your behalf.

How will the logistic side work, such as payments and returns?
Alongside the scan to shop or share app, the system will also encompass a fully integrated iPad POS system linked to a transactional e-commerce platform. Paypal has come onboard as payment partner, and there will be two types of returns – those linked to purchases bought at the physical mall will be handled by each individual shop, while orders placed online will be dealt with by Boxpark’s center of administration.

Which brands have signed up and what is the selection criterion?
We’re in conversation with a dozen interesting indie names – some of which operate stores at Boxpark already – but it’s too early to reveal any particular ones as we’re still fine-tuning the concept. As for the selection process, it’s a plus if a brand has ecommerce experience, but they certainly don’t have to have access to traffic. To promote the scheme and support brands, we’re offering a 20% commission only fee structure.

How would you like to see the concept developing?
In the future there might be a Boxpark Market Place in New York and LA… this would allow customers to share products worldwide, which would aid the future of shopping and support independent brands  – no one wants to see a high street full of identikit shops.