House of Fraser’s digital half way house

I’ve been trying to get my head around House of Fraser‘s new concept store in Aberdeen’s Union Square. Equipped with iPads, computers and a complimentary coffee bar, this ‘buy and collect’ store seems to be a half way house between conventional ‘bricks and mortar’ shopping and online shopping.

You can order online from home or using the in-store computers and your goods will be delivered the next day, either to your home/workplace or to the store. You can try things on in the store when they arrive and you can also use the store for unwanted returns rather than schlepping to the post office and paying for postage. All seems rather a lot of faffing, why not just shop at the actual House of Fraser store and be done with it? Well actually, Aberdeen doesn’t have a House of Fraser but was receiving so many online orders that it realised it had a lot of customers in the area. For those customers this service aims to take away the hassle of waiting for packages to arrive, paying for postage and also paying for returns.

I have often wondered why online sites like Netaporter and Asos don’t have a city-centre presence, simply for people like me who might to buy like their merchadise but aren’t home during the day to receive packages. This initiative looks like it might solve some problems. House of Fraser certainly seems confident that it will succeed; another branch is scheduled to open in Liverpool later this year.