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INTRODUCTION This research project will explore and understand the lifestyle and demands of the typical Topshop customer. It will concentrate on helping to create an interactive and engaging Topshop Experience focusing on the individual needs of each customer. It will also explore the future customer and how Topshop must become more creative in order to lure the modern consumer into their brand. The experience will come in the form of a Double Decker Bus, which will travel around the country with Topshop Experts on board. The Bus will be looking to engage the public offering style, make-up and general fashion advice through new forms of technology. The Topshop Tour Bus will travel around the United Kingdom stopping off at all the major cities attracting the attention of women aged between 18 and 35 years. This fashion savvy group thrives on interactive experiences and this bus will allow Topshop to formulate a new relationship with them, bringing them closer to the brand. The bus will be unique and designed to offer the public a small taster of what the Topshop brand can offer them. Customers will be able to enter the bus and through a variety of exciting and engaging interactive activities, be able to experience firsthand the products and services of Topshop.




The Topshop Tour Bus is ‘heaven on wheels,’ for those people of all ages who want a new and exciting way to experience the latest fashions and trends. On board the bus will be a selection of Topshop’s Top Consultants offering customers information on their body size, what clothes best fit them and up to date style advice. For one month Topshop are sending their finest team of experts round the country to engage customers into the fashion savvy, cutting edge brand that is Topshop. The tour bus will be a Double Decker Bus, which will house interactive screens, social tables and kiosks. The interactive screens are to analyse customer’s body shapes so that their exact sizes can be measured. Thus allowing the customer to have well fitting, comfortable and high fashion wardrobes. Through state of the art technology, screens will: • Calculate customers measurements and sizing for buying garments • Allow customers to virtually try on garments using their personal measurements • Show customers how to piece together an entire wardrobe This paired with friendly Topshop staff combines for a fun and exciting experience for customers. The social tables and Kiosks will show customers: • Current blogs relevant to the particular Topshop customer • Up-to-date ‘catwalks’ showing the latest Topshop fashion. The customer may pick a size 8 to 16 size model to showcase the clothes • Customers will be informed about special offers as they are experiencing the unique and personal Topshop interactive service • Customers will be informed of the free gifts and promotions they will be receiving upon leaving the Tour Bus • Customers will be able to view make-up demonstrations using the latest Topshop products • Top Style consultants will be on hand at all times helping customers analyse their results, working out what styles and size are best for them



All these elements will only add to the customer experience and will aid in bringing them closer to the brand. The Bus will be able to offer customers an overall individual experience, which is not possible in a shop environment. All customers using the Tour Bus will be contacted later and given all the information they gained on the bus. Due to the information Topshop will hold on those customers they will also be sent information on future fashion collections focusing on the styles that would suit their body shape. As customer demands are developing it is clear they will be expecting a more interactive experience from Topshop. They will be seeking out a more immersive retail experience. The Tour Bus will allow customers to engage with the brand like never before. The Topshop Bus will stimulate people’s visual, auditory and tactile senses to enhance the shopping experience for the customer. The Bus will allow Topshop to test the waters for becoming a more experiential brand and if proven successful will be a concept that Topshop can consider taking into it’s stores. The main objective of this research document will be to understand the individual needs and demands of Topshop’s future consumers. The research document will explore the need for retailers to create a more immersive retail experience for consumers, with evidence to help support the necessity for providing a more interactive service. This will be gathered using a variety of different research methods and skills.











METHODOLOGY The primary target of this project research will be to gain an understanding and wider knowledge of Topshop’s target market of women aged 18-35. The research will aim to identify the future demands of the Topshop consumers. It will also examine the need for Topshop to become a more interactive and experiential store in order to stay ahead of competitors. There will be various methods used in gathering this information. Using different types of qualitative and quantitative research such as: Primary research • • •

Questionnaires Focus groups VALS Surveys

This will also be paired with extensive secondary research in areas such as ‘The future customer’ and engaging audiences. This will lead to invaluable information on key areas such as Topshop’s target market, the future customer and the importance of experiential branding. Secondary research • • • • •

Books Articles Mintel Reports Videos Web pages




Topshop is a leading global retailer of affordable, contemporary and individual fashion style. It “blends cutting edge style with purse-friendly prices to bring it fashion savvy customers their weekly fashion fix [1].” Since it was first launched in 1964 it has become one of the countries most loved and most successful fashion chains. As a key brand of the Arcadia group, Topshop has over 300 stores located in the UK alone, and 100 other international locations, stretching from Sweden, Turkey, Singapore and now the U.S. Topshop provides the most up-to-date styles and trends at affordable prices for their sophisticated customers. Topshop regards itself as ‘the fashion destination for pioneering British fashion on the high street [2]. This is backed up by questionnaires carried out on this Research Project about people’s impressions of Topshop. When asked ‘What do you like about Topshop?’ Many said they liked how it is ‘affordable,’ ‘fashionable,’ ‘had varied styles,’ ‘good basic ranges,’ and the fact that it has ‘Current fashion.’ It is one of the very few high street stores left that still has an unmistakable look of its own: feminine, and often featuring distinctive prints. A great achievement of Topshop’s was to be the first high street retailer to have its clothes featured on the cover of Vogue, in 2005. Along with this they have won multiple awards in areas such as customer service and also for their website


1.Topshop-Topman X (Chrissy, 2009) Topshop dedication. 2.Portas, M (2010) Shop details for Topshop Background image:1. Getty images (2009)

1.2 THE PRODUCT Boasting diversity and ‘up to the minute’ designs, Topshop’s product lines range from everyday classics to unique capsule wardrobe items. Topshop offers a large variety of products and services to accommodate each individual style of their consumers. Popular Topshop lines include: “Mainline, Premium, Boutique and Unique.” By having such a variety of labels it allows Topshop to accommodate the demands of all their customers. Topshop’s brand, “Premium” is focused on the shoppers who look for quality in their products and items with more intricate detail, however, aren’t as price conscious. Where as the “Mainline” collections are geared towards customers looking for stylish yet more affordable fashion. ‘Topshop is all about refusing to be pigeonholed. Each customer is an individual and relies on the brand to deliver everything from basics to cutting edge style [3].’ Jane Shepherdson, brand director of Topshop, has said “the secret to Topshop’s success is both in the speed to market and investment in product development [4].” The combination of these two elements has meant that Topshop can offer customers fast and current fashion. These distinctive qualities are what set Topshop apart from their competitors.

1.3 THE SERVICE ‘A key ingredient to the brand success has been its vision of shopping as entertainment [5].’ Topshop offer a variety of services in order to keep a strong brand relationship with customers such as a Personal Shopping Services and Topshop To Go. In some of the larger stores Topshop tries to deliver their concept of ‘shopping as entertainment’ by including video walls, Nail bars, café’s, Vintage sections and Boutiques. “None of us has to shop we do it as a leisure activity so I think it’s up to the retailers to provide an experience that’s a bit more fun than just the average ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’-type experience. That’s fundamental really. Obviously people will stay in your store longer if it’s exciting to look at, it’s interesting, it’s tempting- there are unexpected things in it [6].” The idea is to keep shoppers coming back to the store and to create what Shepherdson calls ‘fashion Disney [7].’ This has been achieved by creating a unique atmosphere in all Topshop stores of an exclusive club. This is made through loud music and creative fashion artwork. However there is one key ingredient Topshop have missed out in creating a ‘Fashion Disney’ world. Interactivity. This is a matter that must be addressed because ‘creating an in-store experience is more important than ever as Bricks and Mortar retailers compete with online shopping [8].’ As the future customer needs are developing they will be demanding a more interactive experience from Topshop. This will be proven later through this research project. 3. Archives on Topshop (Top Sources for Topshop 2010) 4.Smith, J (2007) Topshop’s turnaround 5.Mc Cabe, M (2010) “Topshop London…Shopping Heaven” 6. + 7 + 8 . Smith, J (2007) Topshop’s turnaround Background image: 2. Pipe Line (2009)


1.4 TARGET AUDIENCE Topshop’s target customers are primarily women aged 18-35. Through using the “VALS” method it has been possible to understand the different attributes and personality traits of the typical Topshop customer. ‘VALS is a marketing and consulting tool that helps businesses worldwide develop and execute more effective strategies. The system identifies current and future opportunities by segmenting the consumer marketplace on the basis of the personality traits that drive consumer behavior [9].’ ‘VALS segments adults into eight distinct types-or mindsets-using a specific set of psychological traits and key demographics that drive consumer behaviour [10]’: Innovators, achievers, experiences, believers, strivers, markers and survivors. Benefits of using VALS: • • •

‘Gain a fresh perspective by getting “into the heads” of your customers’ ‘Creates richly textured consumer profiles or personas’ ‘Understand the distinct communication styles of your best targets [11]’

Through carrying out a VALS survey on a small segment of Topshop’s typical customers it has come to light that these consumers tend to fall into two main segments; Experiencers and Achievers. ‘Experiencers are motivated by self-expression. They are young, enthusiastic, and impulsive consumers. They seek variety and excitement, savouring the new, the offbeat, and the risky. Their energy finds an outlet in exercise, sports, outdoor recreation, and social activities. Experiencers are avid consumers and spend a comparatively high proportion of their income on fashion, entertainment, and socialising. Their purchases reflect the emphasis they place on looking good and having “cool” stuff [12].’ Experiencers love Topshop for it’s dedication to creating fashion and the way they strive to make their customers noticed in the crowd. However they would positively react to Topshop developing into a more interactive brand in which they can experience and engage with. ‘Achievers are motivated by the desire for achievement. They have goal-oriented lifestyles and a deep commitment to career and family. Their social lives reflect this focus.’ ‘They value consensus, predictability, and stability over risk, intimacy, and self-discovery. With many wants and needs, Achievers are active in the consumer marketplace. Image is important to Achievers; they favor established, prestige products and services that demonstrate success to their peers [13].’ Achievers would love the wide range of products available at Topshop. They are the perfect customers for the “Premium,” and “Unique” lines due to their uniqueness and high quality. They would also benefit from Topshop becoming a more interactive store as it would allow them to slowly engage with the brand and would allow them build a strong relationship with Topshop. 9. Information on VALS (Welcome to Vals, 2009) 10 + 11. Strategic Business Insights (U.S Framework and VALS types 2010) 12. Strategic Business Insights (Experiencers 2010) 13. Strategic Business Insights (Achievers 2010)


Brackground image: 3. Jessica Lonton (2003)

1.5 COMPETITION Although Topshop is one of the worlds leading retailers it has many challenging competitors. H&M are Topshop’s largest competitor. Their winning strategy of ‘fashion and quality at the best price [14],’ has kept them from falling under the shadow of Topshop. Where H&M have really challenged Topshop is through their collaborations with designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Roberto Cavalli. Zara is another major competitor for Topshop. They embody the concept of ‘fast fashion’ and have new lines of clothing every week. They have a ‘non-seasonal’ production model which allows the company to respond extremely quickly to the market condition. Other competitors include: French Connection, River Island and Miss Selfridge.

14. Facts about H&M (H&M in Brief 2010) Background image: 4. Haute World (2009)



4.0 EXPERIENTIAL RETAILING 4.1 DEFINITION As times are changing and the way consumers shop develop, retailers are searching for new and exciting ways to stand out from the crowd. ‘Experiential retailing is an interdisciplinary and innovative concept that crosses the fields of merchandising and hospitality management [15].’Experiential retailing is more focused on involving the customer than it is focused on products and merchandise.

DESIGN BY HANNAH SWIFT 15. Kim, Y (2001) Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services


4.2 Why Topshop should become an Experiential Brand Experiential retailing is what can differentiate stores from its competitors. It can be the deciding factor into why a customer will choose one store over another. It’s a risky strategy but if executed well it can lead to a huge boost in sales and means a close relationship develops between the brand and it’s customer. ‘IBM describes the goals of immersive retail, aiming for a memorable, interactive and emotional experience full of personalized dialogues [16].’ There have been a few highly successful experiential retails, such as, Apple, Nike and Abercrombie and Fitch. They have managed to engage their customers through memorable in-store experiences using a variety of different methods that appeal to all of consumer senses. ‘Retailers that give consumers what they want will ultimately win both their business and their loyalty. Despite overwhelming evidence that the consumer experience is the single most important factor in continued growth for manufacturer and retail brands alike, it has remained ill-defined and, with few notable exceptions, ignored by both [17].’ From the Questionnaires carried out it was clear that customers are seeking a more experiential experience from stores because when asked ‘Do you feel experiential stores are important?’ their responses were as follows:

It is also obvious that customers feel Topshop has not accomplished this. As when asked ‘Do you think Topshop is an experiential/interactive store?’ people said:

Interestingly one person did add that ‘It has the potential to be.’ Showing that Topshop has all the right attributes to be an experiential and interactive brand, they just haven’t become one yet. Another question that was asked was ‘Do you think Topshop make an effort to engage with customers?’ One of the responses was ‘Literally feels like I’m buying from a shop, there is no relationship between the customer and the brand.’ Another was ‘There is little to no engagement and often staff can be quite standoffish.’


16. Mulkeen, M (2010) Bullet-hard Nipples of Hollister’s immersive retail experience 17.

4.3 Experiential /Interactive Competition There are two types of concepts that stores have adopted in order to fulfil the needs and demands of this new customer. The first is Interactive retailing. This is when customers can physically interact with the brand. The best example of this is the Apple Store. People can come into the store and test and use the merchandise with friendly, knowledgeable staff on hand for assistance. ‘Apple has managed to transform “hanging out in stores” into entertainment [18].’ The Apple store is now seen as a destination store for shoppers and is soon becoming a cultural touch point. Other examples include: Niketown, Sony Gallery of Consumer Electronics, Hamleys The second concept is experiential retailing. This is when the customer gets consumed into the ‘idea’ of the brand and they learn exactly what the brand is about. The best example of this is Abercrombie and Fitch. They are a thematically and energising brand. Abercrombie is a ‘youthful, all-American lifestyle brand [19].’ As soon as customers enter the store they are transported into another world. ‘It is the equivalent of a coolparty, one that is very “loud and dark” and country club- meets- surf bungalow (Kyung Kim, Y. Sullivan, P. Cardona, J. 2007 p. 266) [20].’ This style replicates the image of Abercrombie and makes customers want to be a part of it. The layout of the store and the lighting is fundamental to the creating the atmosphere. Another key element is the staff, they walk around kitted out from head to toe in Abercrombie gear and shout out phrases like ‘Party at my house.’ It is this combination of things that have Abercrombie experience so memorable. Other examples include: Ralph Lauren, Hollister, Tiffany and Co. All of these companies have successfully managed to differentiate themselves from their competition through a variety of interactive and experiential methods. This is achieved through design, layout, shop floor accessories and lighting. The Topshop Tour Bus would fall into the Interactive-retailing bracket. Its uniqueness will certainly mean it will stand out from the crowd. Topshop has always seen itself as the market leader and it will be vital for them to incorporate experiential retailing into their brand for them to stay on top. This is due to the future customer demanding a more immersive retail experience from the store. The overwhelming conclusion of all the research is a desire for more hands on approach to their retail shopping. Topshop need to become an interactive brand and to prove this research has been undertaken on the Future Customer, which shows their need and demand for a more experiential experience from stores. 18. Observations of the changing retail landscape (Apple store attendace outpaces amusement parks, 2010) 19. 20. Kyung Kim, Y. Sullivan, P. Cardona, J. (2007) Experiential Marketing.. Concepts and Strategies that sell. Fairchild Pubns.


5.0 The Customer 5.1 The Past Customer Things have changed dramatically in the past 10 years. Previously customers were not interested in interacting with the stores they shopped at. Their main focus was on ensuring they received good quality products at reasonable prices. What was offered was much more important than how it was offered. Now through technology, economic pressures and an increased need for efficiency, customer demands are changing.


Background image: 5. Word Press (2009)

5.2 The Future Customer Today’s customer is becoming increasingly more demanding and are operating in a much more indulging, technology driven society. In an age of commoditisation, consumers are switching their focus from product and service to the overall experience they gain. The Future Customer will consume experiences and seek out more original entertainment in all aspects of their lives. It is very important for Topshop to understand the needs of the customer in every aspect they do in order to develop the brand in a successful way. ’Consumers are expecting more from retailers than ever before. They have begun to demand a full service where they once might have expected products and transaction [21].’ This was proven by et al. Kyung Kim, Y. Sullivan, P. Cardona, J. (2007, p4). The old notion of ‘mass market’ no longer exists. Topshop need to consider consumers as individuals as they are now expecting a shopping service that is catered around them and tailored to their highly specific needs. The Topshop Tour Bus will be a perfect way to entice the savvy, technology driven new consumer into the brand. A MINTEL report that was carried out in 2010, predicts consumer trends for 2011. It states that ‘ brands may need to get more creative to lure consumers into stores, offering more than just retail, and be a venue, not just a shop. Service may extend into advice and demonstrations, while exclusivity and environment may also be key aspects to engage consumers with real life, not virtual, shopping experiences [22].’The Topshop Tour Bus will embody all of these characteristics offering advice, demonstrations, exclusivity and real life shopping experiences using modern day technology. The trends of consumers shopping on a day-to-day basis have shifted towards shopping at Retail Parks and use of the Internet. Therefore when customers do go into stores they aren’t just there to collect goods, they are there to have an experience. With the use of a full range of technologies the Topshop Bus will provide customers with an all round interactive experience, which will be memorable, and unforgotten. This could potentially then be continued into the larger stores in major cities. Today’s customer wants adaptable products and a broad collection of technical driven and effective services. Customers will view their time and leisure as important and will reward businesses that help them to accomplish this. They will value products and services that are customized around their lifestyle and their life stage needs. They will expect more engaging experiences, interaction in stores and want to be treated as unique individuals. Topshop as a brand is already hugely popular and extremely well established however it will be fundamental for Topshop to develop into an experiential brand to accommodate the new type of customer in order to stay on top. Through researching the type of customer Topshop will need to appeal to in the future, it is clear that they must expand their brand. The Topshop Tour Bus will be the first stepping-stone for Topshop. With its high use of technology there is no doubt that it will appeal to this new consumer. The Bus will allow them to gradually enter the experiential market where they will be able to see how consumers take to their new concepts and ideas, then, through customer feedback Topshop can look to expanding the concept into a more permanent feature in their stores.

Background image: 6. Nataly (2009)

21. Kyung Kim, Y. Sullivan, P. Cardona, J. (2007) Experiential Marketing.. Concepts and Strategies that sell. Fairchild Pubns. 22. MINTEL (2010) ‘Mintel reveals consumer trends for 2011,’ [Online.] Avalible at: mintel-reveals-consumer-trends-for-2011 (Accessed: 15 November 2010)


6.0 Project research outcomes: 6.1 Problems encountered: From undertaking this research there were a variety of problems that were encountered along the way. One of the biggest problems was trying to find the appropriate and relevant information. It was very easy to get distracted by all of the different information online and in books that summarising it and picking out the most important details was quite difficult. However this did not affect the final outcome of the document, it required focus to extract the key information. Some parts of the research were easier to find information on than others. It was quite challenging to find relevant information on Topshop. There was lots of information about the history of Topshop but little on who their customer was and what the brand represented. This made it difficult to find crucial information that was needed in the research. It meant that conclusions about the Topshop customer had to be generalised from the information acquired. However through later doing Questionnaires and Focus Groups the conclusions were backed up on what the future customer desired. The Questionnaires were an important factor in the research for this document. It was quite hard to find suitable applicants to fill out the surveys as it was done using an online survey website. This did mean that a variety of people completed the survey who had no interest in the topic being discussed. It was also hard to actually get people to complete the survey, therefore not as many questionnaires were filled out. The surveys that did get completed did offer some great feedback, which allowed this factor to not affect the outcome of the research. It was quite challenging as well to find suitable participants in the Focus Group who were prepared to give up some of their valuable time. Overall only a few major problems were encountered which has meant the final research document is full of accurate and relevant information.


6.2 How has the research enhanced the concept? Initially the idea for the Tour Bus was to be a styling bus where people could go on it and have a makeover. They could meet style advisors and make-up artists and find out what looks were best for them. From undertaking this research though, it became apparent that this wasn’t enough. This concept would only be a promotional campaign for Topshop and wouldn’t transform them into anything new. Through the research it became clear the demand from the future customer was for interaction with the brand, mainly through technology. From the Focus Groups great points were made that if the concepts on the Tour bus were successful it could then be taken further into the stores themselves. This will give Topshop a new competitive edge. This research document has taken a good idea and transformed it into a solid concept, which will enhance the brand.




1. Chrissy (2009) Topshop. Avalible at: jsp?MemberId=8857132436 (Accessed: 21 December 2010). 2. Portas, M (2010) Shop details. Available at: (Accessed: 21 December 2010). 3. Top Sources for Topshop (2010) Avalible at: http://jpaulemon.wordpress. com/2010/10/ (Accessed 29 December 2010). 4. Smith, J (2007) Topshop’s turnaround. Avalible at: http://jpaulemon.wordpress. com/2010/10/ (Accessed: 12 November 2010). 5. Mc Cabe, M (2010) ‘Topshop London…Shopping Heaven’ 7 January. Available at: (Accessed 29 December 2010). 6. Smith, J (2007) Topshop’s turnaround. Avalible at: http://jpaulemon.wordpress. com/2010/10/ (Accessed: 12 November 2010). 7. Smith, J (2007) Topshop’s turnaround. Avalible at: http://jpaulemon.wordpress. com/2010/10/ (Accessed: 12 November 2010). 8. Smith, J (2007) Topshop’s turnaround. Avalible at: http://jpaulemon.wordpress. com/2010/10/ (Accessed: 12 November 2010). 9. Welcome to Vals (2009) Avalible at: (Accessed 22 December 2010). 10. U.S Framework and VALS types (2010) Available at: (Accessed 22 December 2010). 11. U.S Framework and VALS types (2010) Available at: (Accessed 22 December 2010). 12. Experiencers (2010) Available at: ustypes/experiencers.shtml (Accessed 22 December 2010). 13. Achievers (2010) Available at: ustypes/achievers.shtml (Accessed 22 December 2010). 14. H&M in Brief (2010) Available at: (Accessed 12 November 2010). 15. Kim, Y (2001) ‘Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services’ Available at: origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1591788127&_

rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=f56eb 93fae5f4abe2d8b8326991dade9&searchtype=a (Accessed: 21 December 2010). 16. Mulkeen, M (2010) ‘The Bullet-hard Nipples of Hollister’s Immersive Retail Experience’ Avalible at: (Accessed: 13 November 2010). 17. (Accessed: 12 November) 18. Apple store attendance outpaces amusement parks (2010) Avalible at: http:// (Accessed on: 29 December 2010) 19. (Accessed on: 13 November 2010) 20. Kyung Kim, Y. Sullivan, P. Cardona, J. (2007) Experiential Marketing.. Concepts and Strategies that sell. Fairchild Pubns. 21. Kyung Kim, Y. Sullivan, P. Cardona, J. (2007) Experiential Marketing.. Concepts and Strategies that sell. Fairchild Pubns. 22. MINTEL (2010) ‘Mintel reveals consumer trends for 2011,’ [Online.] Avalible at: (Accessed: 15 November 2010) Images: 1. Getty images (2009) Avalible at: (Accessed 17 November 2010) 2. Pipe Line (2009) Avalible at: (Accessed 20 December 2010) 3. Jessica Lonton (2003) Avalible at: (Accessed 12 November 2010) 4. Haute World (2009) Avalible at: topshop.jpg (Accessed 13 November) 5. Word Press (2009) Avalible at: http://eatlaughdiscover.files.wordpress. com/2009/11/shopping-bag.jpg (Accessed 21 December 2010) 6. Nataly (2009) Avalible at: (Accessed 13 November 2010)



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