Ladbrokes to reinvent stores with digital and experiential features

Ladbrokes is to introduce digital and experiential features to stores including tablet devices and piping in the aroma of turf to create a more robust point of differentiation on the high-street and kickstart stuttering retail revenue. 

Ladbrokes is testing digital and experiential retail initiatives to uncover new ways to get people in-stores.

The gambling business is trialling a store format, developed by design agency Fitch, in central London to help inform plans for existing shops and future locations. It aims to drive more in-store engagement beyond placing bets with the company also hoping to highlight an experience that cannot be replicated through a betting app at home.

Static posters in windows are replaced with moving content including Twitter feeds, live updates and broadcasts. A social hub at the center of the store encourages visitors watch events together while it also lets them monitor social media traffic via tablet devices. Wi-Fi, phone charging plates, and a welcome cup of coffee are available, while staff are encouraged to mingle with customers.

An experiential “Event Space” will allow betters to sit back and watch major sporting events such as the World Cup in a more theatrical setting. Reactive lighting and audio are also fed into the area to heighten the excitement around broadcasts. Even smell is being trialed with the aroma of turf sprayed in the shop to reinforce the immersive sports atmosphere.

The betting business is also experimenting with isolating sound to particular screens in order to replicate the at-home experience for gamblers but in a more exciting environment.

Chris Robson, group property and procurement director of Ladbrokes, says, “The new shop aims to differentiate Ladbrokes from the normal traditional format of the betting shop.  Retail is evolving and we are keen that our customer experience evolves with it. The Strand shop is a great way to test out new ideas and see how the customer reacts.”

Retail is a “attractive and profitable” part of the business, according to Ladbrokes. But the high street is becoming more competitive and being outmuscled by the growth of online betting, heaping pressure on Labdrokes to increase footfall in-stores. The business has confirmed around 50 shops will close this year amid changes to betting machine duty and is struggling to get its online offering with software provider Playtech off the ground following several delays.

Retail revenue at Ladbrokes betting shops across the UK fell 2.3 per cent in the latest quarter, underlining the bookmaker’s struggle to attract customers in-store and maintain its overall market share. The betting firm hopes a more experiential retail experience “builds further loyalty” to our shops”.

Paddy Power has been overhauling its own stores since the turn of the year to match its “irreverent and mischievous” brand positioning.

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