Experiential shopping: Could it be the future of retail?
Despite the threat of e-commerce and online shopping taking over the retail industry, 61 percent of today’s Gen Z prefer shopping in physical stores. Compared to the 2D interface of online retail platforms, physical stores have an advantage in providing a heightened customer experience facilitating tactile senses.
From visually appealing interiors and memorable fragrances to warm and excellent service, physical stores are not only “selling” the products but also their ambiance. A more simplified term for this is experiential retail.
Defining experiential retail
A marketing technique known as experiential retail involves providing customers with experiences rather than just letting them browse and purchase goods. To create unique in-store experiences that encourage brand loyalty, experiential retail stores use facilities like cutting-edge technology, provide in-store services, hold exclusive events, and have knowledgeable employees.
Although brick-and-mortar stores are returning, this doesn’t mean forgetting the cyberspace, especially when smartphones are an essential device in daily life.
An excellent example of an omnipresent brand is Nike. Customers can reserve tickets to exclusive events, workout sessions, and product customization services via the “Nike experiences” function. Nike uses this information to adjust the store’s value proposition based on the products that appeal to shoppers the most.
Purchasing shoes is also much more technologically advanced (and convenient). For example, store employees are equipped with Nike Fit to assist customers in finding the right fit. It is a foot scanning system that “uses a patented blend of computer vision, data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and recommendation algorithms.”
There is no denying that a rule of customer service is to make the customers feel special and attended. A recent study by Forbes showed that 71 percent of consumers are frustrated when their shopping experience feels impersonal. To combat such frustration, investing in and creating tailored customer experiences with the help of technology are recommended.
Known as “click-and-collect,” customers can make online product purchases and claim them at the physical store. It is a feature that applies to department stores and supermarkets, which introduce seamless transactions while maintaining decent foot traffic in their physical stores. Additional purchases in the physical stores themselves are also possible when the customers are about to claim their original orders.
The Game Chest at the Del Amo Fashion Center in California does not only ensure that the products work but that it also provides a more interactive customer experience. This business, started by three local mothers, combines toys and board games so customers can directly interact with the goods.
Since many of its toys are prominently displayed, kids are allowed to play with big train sets and blocks while shopping. Toy demos are also provided by the staff at the store so that clients can sample them before purchasing. The shop offers toy rental services as well.
Be there for the community
The primary goal of retail shopping is to gain customers with product sales. What makes experiential retail different is its desire to achieve a solid brand-to-customer relationship by creating immersive and memorable experiences that will result in consistent product sales and brand loyalty.
The author (www.ianfulgar.com) manages his own architectural and technology studio helping local and international clients looking for unique and future design specialties for hotels, condominiums, museums, and commercial and mixed-use township developments with a pursuit for the meta-modern in the next Philippine architecture
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