The retail industry and customer demands are constantly changing. Much has been said about the apparent slow death of the high street, but there are many examples of companies that are trying to give people a reason to visit their stores. This blog is about the constant improvement of the in-store shopping experience in the retail industry.
“Whatever retail sector you are in, you must give people a reason to want to come in your stores”, says Virgin Holidays’ vice president for product and distribution, Lee Haslett. This statement shows the relevance of an unforgettable customer experience and the British airline, to remain with this example, implements various ideas, such as the offer for their customers to try economy seats that have been set up in shop. During those shopping trips of their parents, children have the chance to make use of a kids’ area and taste some cocktails that they can expect in their holiday destination. The success of those experience centres becomes clear after a second glance, as they are intended as a first touchpoint to arouse interest of their customers and convince them to continue these experiences in their holidays.
Cafes in physical stores serve the same intention of making the stay an enjoyable experience and when we think about examples, IKEA comes in mind immediately. The Swedish retailer offers customers to take a break in the restaurant and enjoy traditional Swedish food. H&M, to name another example, implemented a café area in their Westfield White City store in 2018 as well. The fashion retailer sees this café more like a possibility to communicate the company’s philosophy of sustainability, as they describe their menu as “health-ish” and implement flowers and palm trees. This café can therefore be defined for marketing purposes and influences customer behaviour significantly.
In addition to the mentioned in-store features, there are also technologies that can improve the experience in retail spaces with various functions, as digital screens promote products, enable customers to see the howl product pallet, try on clothes and order articles that are out of stock. Disney uses displays, to give a reference to experience centres, for reasons of entertainment. The stores utilise technology, including large LED digital screens to showcase fireworks displays and the iconic “LIVE from Disney Parks” parade. The new stores involve more interactive experiences and visual stimulation, such as a welcome celebration each morning hosted by Disney cast members and characters that greet and interact with customers. There is also an in-store play room where children can experience learning and play activities.
The common intention among all of them is that they are focusing on their experience rather than the products itself. The last year remembered for another year of high-street struggles, a more positive development has been the continued rise of the experience store, with retailers developing new formats and technologies to encourage consumers to spend longer exploring their stores and win a new fanbase.