Concept Stores: An Emerging Retail Trend To Keep in Mind

May 28, 2021 | Experiential Marketing

While concept stores are not new, they are emerging as one of the key trends to pay attention to in the retail industry right now. Not only do they provide a valuable opportunity for brands to drive customer engagement and elevate the overall shopping experience, they allow for refreshed and new ways to interact with products, something that’s especially important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And as the retail industry continues to evolve, they can offer a path for retailers of all sizes to test out new products, deepen their relationships with their customers and boost engagement. What’s more, by incorporating technology, brick-and-mortar retailers have been able to use concept stores to provide high-tech product demonstrations that enable customers to “handle” products in a way that still maintains safety.

Let’s take a closer look.

Driving Customer Engagement and Refreshing the Shopping Experience

By their very nature, concept stores can provide a refreshed, unique and imaginative experience for customers.

“Concept stores, when done well, are places that bring new ideas to life,” notes Sheridan & Co. “This in turn creates an inspiring customer journey and shopping experience. People are not just learning about products, they are being invited on a journey with their imagination.”

By offering retail brands the opportunity to get creative with how they’re displaying and offering their products, concept stores can provide customers with a one-of-a-kind, exclusive experience. This is important because in today’s retail landscape, generations like Gen-Z and Millennials are usually seeking to do more than just buy an item, in many cases, they’re looking at (and craving) shopping as a total experience in itself.

By offering up a curated collection of products in an experiential retail environment that steps out of the box from a more traditional retail location (think providing food experiences, music, art, and more), retailers can cater to what younger consumers may be looking for when they go shopping in the future.

And though the world is continuing to reopen in the wake of the pandemic, this type of strategy and thinking is important to keep in mind, especially as live experiences continue to evolve and re-emerge on a fuller scale.

“While an increase in concept stores is a positive thing for brands who may be carried by them, it may be that the concept store renaissance is felt most strongly in what retailers can learn from the format.” notes Insider Trends.

Reinforcing an Omni-Channel Strategy and Incorporating Technology

When we think about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the retail industry, one of the first things that comes to mind is how it fundamentally changed the shopping experience. From the rise of digital/online shopping to touchless technology becoming a fundamental part of the consumer experience, to curbside pickup increasing significantly.

And now, as people begin to step back out into the world and inside stores, there’s an opportunity to use concept stores as a means of reinforcing an omni-channel approach. And this isn’t only limited to beauty brands. The omni-channel approach is all about brands bringing the world of physical retail together along with the digital/online component, such as the recent Zinus Amazon retail store experience.

By allowing people to enter a physical store and give them the opportunity to test a physical product, or use AR and VR to “try something on” and then order it online, retailers can bring both worlds together to create a new and exciting experience. And with apps, social media, and other kinds of digital technology, the possibilities for engaging omni-channel experience are endless, both before shoppers enter the physical retail space and after.

Like so many industries in 2021, retail is continuously shifting and evolving to meet consumer needs and match how they want to engage. With their ability to offer more personalized, curated, and immersive experiences, concept stores have the opportunity to elevate the shopping experience and shouldn’t be ignored.

Posted by Angel Carra | Request as a Speaker

On the go, mother of two, who believes things happen for a reason. SVP of Sparks Retail focused on driving the best client and customer experience.