Rethinking Retail: Designing for a More Experiential Future

Living, breathing brands 

Retail is changing. Current high streets seem ever evolving to suit the needs of the consumer. Huge retailers are closing their doors unable to stay afloat, new brands are appearing for short periods of time in rental pop-ups and others are adapting to find new ways to draw potential customers in store.

It is evident that brands are moving away from the traditional seller-to-consumer set-up – where customers are mere spectators and brands simply display their products. With new generations seeking the connection with a physical store rather than just the online platform, there is a market for offering a little more alongside the purchasing process.

Experiential retail offers an immersive experience for the customer. It engages them and reaches out to their interests surrounding the products. Suddenly, retail becomes entertainment and consumers become participants in a collective event.

Memorable retail

Facing strong competition and the desire to stand out against competitors, it’s no surprise brands are investing time and money in creating inventive ways to create memorable and shareable moments that will get people talking.

With people keen to spend money on memories rather than just a product, retailers are showing a range of approaches to fulfil that want.

From free exercise classes, art workshops, food & beverages and even parties, shops face the challenge to offer something new that will draw customers in, put them at ease and ultimately make them remember the brand.

Securing sales

Regardless of the event, the transactional element of a retail space still needs to be present. Ultimately, retail businesses need to make sales to survive – ensuring that the experiential event still has that element embedded is crucial.

Retail giant, Nike has always embraced the experiential retail approach. Rarely have their campaigns been product focused. Instead, Nike sells the lifestyle, the community and what the brand can offer the customer being part of this experience. Their stores offer the customisation of products and hold ticketed events that ensure customers are participating in an experience that results in a purchase.

Allowing consumers to see the product and have a hands-on experience with it gives a better understanding of what it can offer, but also provides the opportunity to build customer relations.

Appeal to the senses

Ambience is everything. From the moment a customer enters a shop the smells, sounds, tastes, tactile elements and visuals cause consumers to form an impression of the brand. Many retailers have utilised this – providing customers with a relaxed space to spend time in. Comfortable furnishings and free beverages put individuals and ease, encouraging them to stay longer and relax in the space. Having time to take in the surroundings, customers can connect with the products and explore items without any pressure.

If you’re a skincare brand, then offering the opportunity of having demonstrations of products or free treatments can offer not only unique customer feedback, but also entice customers to make a purchase after feeling they have received a service.

Building your community

Inviting customers to become part of a collective experience is in turn inviting them to be part of a community. The benefits of having shared moments and a network of customer support are obvious. Brands can make use of the multichannel reach provided by sharing experiences on social media or word of mouth, they can use the content created by users and they can bring people together by offering events which support that community or local charities.

There is a definite need for retailers to reconsider the question of ‘What they can sell?’ and instead ask ‘What can we provide?’

Want to know how you can upscale your retail space to provide a unique consumer experience? Contact us at here and discover the possibilities.

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