The Concept of Experiential Retail

Posted on 2018-06-15
The Concept of Experiential Retail

In the final part of this series, we take a look at the retail industry's NEW direction:

Retailers have started showcasing brands and delivering experience of the product, specifically tailored to the customers’ need. Imagine, experiencing a sport while buying a product? Yes, that’s how retail is changing. This kind of a shopping experience, not only engages a customer, but also provides emotional benefit/connect. Some speciality shops and retailers even enable people to indulge in their passion; organize book clubs, baking lessons, musical classes etc. Take for example, a sports shop conducting yoga classes or running clubs for patrons for deeper engagement.

Many people still believe in touching and seeing a product before buying it- such as furniture, clothes etc.; consequently, shopping complexes also are beginning to provide facilities such as beauty salons, eat-outs, concerts, comedy shows, and art galleries which require the presence of the customer. Google’s pop-up store is an example of experiential retail, where a customer can interact with the product. In a newly opened American Eagle store iPads are provided  in trial rooms so that customers may view  similar products to those that they picked up to try . Stores like these are a perfect example of experiential retail. Other forms of experiential retail involve:

Sports stores: A store like Decathlon provides its customers with experience of using the product at the store before buying it.

Home stores: 'Do it yourself' stores like Home Centre, Ikea provide customers with an in-house opportunity to use the product and then buy it. A free demonstration is also given to the customer before purchasing.  Ikea has an app that helps customers visualize furniture at their home. The app also resizes the object according to the room size to give a more realistic view of how it would look in real life.

Grocery stores: Grocery stores often have eating areas where food sampling is offered to the customer thereby providing a collective experience. Eg. Foodhall, Walmart

Home appliances: Stores like Big Bazar, Home Stop and Siemens allow customers to try out an appliance such as cooktop, oven before buying or even offer cooking classes.

Clothing retailers: Some stores like Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry provide their customers with the unique experience of enabling a customer to see how the outfit would look on them, without even trying it on. Nike’s experiential store has a video wall with social media updates related to their product line. The store has customer terminals connected to ERP catalogues to check product availability in real time. They also have a mobile connect feature that helps customers get relevant content in the store via the app. Customers can now customize their selected products and check out from the digital kiosks.

All these create a memorable experience and soar customer expectations. To keep up with these expectations, retailers and mall owners are also exploring options of entertainment such as outdoor concerts in summers, skating rinks in winter, or in mall and in-store activities. Small shopping outlets and suburban shopping malls are turning into places for social gatherings, wherein customers are offered multiple choices to wine and dine.

Another great example of experiential retail is Mosaic District in Virginia, US. Here, retail shops exist in varying sizes, from 650 sq.ft. to 16,520 sq.ft. to a further 168,000 sq.ft.Its varied offerings include  indoor game rooms, outdoor furniture setups, a film centre with eight screens, multiple dining options, a hotel, two apartment communities and even for-sale townhouses apart from chocolate to clothing stores. The complex is also famous for hosting craft and baking classes, fragrance workshops, wine tasting sessions, outdoor story hours, family movie nights, dance and indoor fitness classes in various studios, and yoga classes in the neighbourhood park.

Event experiences and specialty leasing allows for a greater traffic influx to such shopping areas. Car partnerships (exploring technology), event sponsorships (live music and dance), environment and socially responsible initiatives (donating spaces to food pantries for a food campaign), carts and kiosks, and pop-up stores are examples of specialty leasing which aid in enhancing the retail experience and society engagement.

To stay in the retail race, elevating the shopping experience is no longer an option, but a requirement.

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