Ask anyone today where they shop the most and you’ll likely get an answer in the form of a web address. From Amazon to Zappos to Birchbox and beyond, the rise of e-commerce has drastically changed the way brick and mortar stores do business.
For some enterprising brands, this new reality has given rise to a new approach. Taking cues from some of the brightest minds in event marketing, retailers are transforming stores into experiential havens that seamlessly blend the worlds of digital and physical. The result: a new trend toward “experiential retail.”
The approach puts consumers in the driver’s seat, allowing them to navigate the experience at their own pace and based on their personal preferences. And just like many experiential strategies, the goal is to immerse the consumer in the brand rather than to push sales.
Here’s a closer look at the trend and four brands making experiential retail trends happen:
Samsung 837, the brand’s New York City flagship, sets a high bar for experiential retail. The 55,000-square-foot space is more of a digital playground than a retail site. In fact, the only thing consumers can purchase is a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. Risky? Perhaps. Effective? Absolutely.
Among the “unstore’s” diverse offerings are two virtual reality experiences featuring Samsung technology, a smart home environment created with the brand’s line of home appliances, lounges, a DJ booth and a three-story selfie experience. The space is also home to community meetings, product demos and other cultural events associated with the brand and its philosophies. And with so much to touch, see, hear and tinker with, consumers are eating it up like a scone at the on-site café.
Athleisure brand Lululemon is also at the forefront of the experiential retail movement. Inside its Manhattan-based flagship, the brand’s generally affluent consumers are met with a luxurious retail experience. In addition to taking advantage of the coat check, coffee bar, snacks and a phone-charging station, shoppers can hang out in the Concierge area where they can book nearby fitness classes, discover new places to run and even find restaurant recommendations.
And for those looking for some new duds to show off during their next workout, Lululemon not only offers a vast collection of its athletic wear, but will deliver purchases straight to the customer’s home, office or hotel. And with no bulky shopping bags to cart around, shoppers have more flexibility to experience the rest of the store’s offerings.
Like Hub Seventeen, a 5,000-square-foot space located above the retail floor that serves as a community center of sorts, offering fitness classes, monthly dinners, concerts and more. The live events are just one more way Lululemon gets customers to spend time with its brand.
Telecom giant, Verizon Wireless, continues its reinvention of the retail experience with Destination Stores in Minnesota, Boston, Houston, Chicago and Santa Monica. In keeping with the vibe of the first Destination Store at the Mall of America, the additional stores are designed to create an immersive, hands-on retail experience for today’s sophisticated technology shopper. All are anchored around lifestyle zones where customers can engage with specialists and experience wireless products and apps running on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network. All also feature unique design elements that further tie the experience to the local vibe.
From the innovative use of technology to create memorable, hands-on experiences, to the aesthetically pleasing design choices and artwork, Verizon’s Destination Stores offer an engaging experience that’s sure to remind locals of the unique character of their communities.
Luxury home appliance retailer Pirch has been a trailblazer in the realm of experiential retail trends for years, and given the sheer volume of touchpoints it offers, it just may be the best in the biz. Eighty-five percent of the brand’s showroom is live, meaning you can test out most of the products for sale, while personal advisors are available to guide shoppers through the in-store experience, which is tailored based on their lifestyle.
And what would a luxury retailer be without a few indulgences? Pirch boasts a fully functional steam room and sauna, café, laundry service and dedicated spaces for private events. Other offerings include chef demos and “dream rooms” where digital screens help consumers visualize their design options.
It’s the future of experiential retail trends, these immersive destinations that eschew the bleak showrooms of the past and their pushy sales clerks. Countless retailers are catching on, and it’s only a matter of time before most consumers decide to put down the mouse and pick up a shopping bag.