Placemaking: Putting The “Experience” Back in Store Experience

Putting The “Experience” Back in Store Experience

Why would someone spend three days in the desert at Coachella listening to music they could otherwise get for free online? Doug Stephens (aka The Retail Prophet) recently opined that it’s because “people crave physical experiences.” “They go to be part of a living thing,” he said. He also believes the same can hold true for retail stores: “The true joy of a store is… being able to feel, taste, smell and experience products. Consumers have a “need to interact.”

Mike Lim, international retail space designer, made a similar pronouncement last fall in his speech on the evolution of shopping at the World Architecture Festival. Lim said, “People do not shop at malls for their needs or wants anymore. The shopping experience is now more emotional, spontaneous, creative, based on inspiration and the ‘surprise’ element.” Recalling how previous generations relied on the marketplace as a one-stop destination for day-to-day interaction, he championed mixed-use spaces. Lim believes adding in “amenities that the community needs” (whether that is cooking classes, playgrounds or offices) help to “inject life and vibrancy.” They draw in crowds and people become emotionally attached. Then, Lim added, “Your retail sales will go up once that captive audience is inspired to explore and wander.”

How can you create a more dynamic store experience? Here are five innovative ideas retailers are trying…

  1. Staples has partnered with Workbar to rent out office space inside its Boston stores. Talk about making the most of your real estate.
  2. Athleta offers in-store fitness classes – giving customers the opportunity to test out their new activewear purchases.
  3. J.C. Penney, already known for adding Sephora shops in store, is bringing Pinterest boards to life in the mall. Their Mother’s Day campaign features digital billboards filled with tips on fashion and beauty.
  4. British luxury retailer Harvey Nichols recently unveiled plans to add a cocktail bar/cafe, barber shop and room to host pop-ups and other “immersive experiences.” “The idea is to keep people in the store for as long as possible by providing fun activities outside of shopping,” according to media blogger, The Drum.
  5. Samsung is calling its first physical store in New York an “un-store” because it won’t be selling product. It will serve as home to the “marketing team and be leveraged to express its brand through events and product discovery opportunities,” reported Forbes VP Zach Overton told Forbes, “Creating a flagship without retail might sound like a crazy idea but consumers today are seeking interactions (experiences) rather than transactions. We’re connecting with our customers on a whole new level – whether it’s checking out the state-of-the-art smart kitchen, taking a selfie on the world’s largest mobile screen, discovering a new artist in our music studio, getting Samsung technology questions answered by onsite experts or gaining exclusive access to one of our private events.”

Want help re-imagining your store experience? We would be happy to brainstorm with you and create a one-of-a-kind space. Call us today!