The way we shop in-person has changed. In-store shopping was once the only way to purchase a product—now, anything can be purchased with the click of a button on our phones.
Because of this, retailers are realizing they have a new purpose. Rather than being the sole site of transactions, they also need to provide an experience for their customers.
As the retail sector reconsiders how brick-and-mortar stores fit into their buyer's journey, it's clear that memorable experiences are key to customer satisfaction and customer retention. Engaging, personalized, tactile experiences can't be replicated online, so it's time to find ways to implement them in your retail stores.
This article explores why retailers should invest in and prioritize experiential retail in their physical spaces and provides some tools for getting started.
What is experiential retail?
Experiential retail aims to create memorable experiences for customers as they shop in-person. It engages customers and creates an immersive experience as they interact with your brand.
According to Shopify, in the last year, 47% of consumers were more likely to purchase from a brand due to its local presence. This means that retail stores have a higher expectation than ever before to make the shopping experience one to remember.
Experiential retail can be characterized by any of these features:
- Prioritizing customer engagement
- Implementing tactile experiences
- Using technology to enhance customer experiences,
- Curating a unique and interesting retail space
Three reasons why retailers should prioritize experiential retail
Experiential retail is the new standard for physical stores. It's not just a fleeting retail trend—it's something that will bring you long-term success and engagement. Unique experiences in a traditional retail space will make you stand out among competitors and improve customer retention.
Below are a few reasons why your retail store should prioritize experiential retail and improve your connection with customers.
1. Provides immersive and shareable experiences
Millennials and Gen-Z shoppers are all about sharing experiences on social media. When you have a storefront that is immersive visually and experientially, customers will naturally want to share it on their social channels. This is a great way to engage shoppers and spread the word about your business.
One retail business that does this well is Glossier. They sell beauty products and each of their physical stores uses a creative approach to an unforgettable in-store experience. All of their products are available for purchase online, but because of the unique shopping experience of their brick-and-mortar stores, shoppers line up just to experience the store and the brand in an immersive way.
The branding, art installations, smart mirrors, artificial intelligence, and interactive design at Glossier create the perfect memorable shopping experience.
You can implement these features into your retail store by creating an Instagram photo wall, experimenting with the layout and design of your storefront, and focusing on the consumer experience from the moment they walk through the doors of your shop.
2. Engages customers in a new, fresh way
With experiential retail, the focus shouldn't be on sales. The focus should be on curating an experience for your customer from the first interaction you have with them. We've all had that uncomfortable sales experience where we've felt bombarded by a salesperson the moment we walk through the doors of a store. Most often, this doesn't actually lead to the desire to purchase something.
But when we feel welcome in a store, we're more likely to explore, experience the brand, and potentially purchase something. Aesop, a cosmetics brand, is a great example of engaging customers in a new, fresh way that is not focused on sales, but experience.
In an interview, Aesop's Retail Architectural Manager Denise Neri says, "Our stores and counters are a clear communication of our values and our approach to retail service. We think of it as a hosting experience. The store is a welcoming, calm space where you are treated as a guest in our home—with high quality products, unobtrusive service, and a comfortable space that appeals to all the senses."
Ultimately, customers are looking for a new experience as they pursue a product. Physical retail should feel different from online shopping. Personalized experiences with retail brands will lead to delighted, satisfied customers.
3. Helps create community
In a post-pandemic world, many people are seeking community. Communal spaces where we can gather and interact are so valuable for connecting with the people in our vicinity. Experiential retail can make this happen in our communities.
This can look like hosting free or affordable classes, community events, and clubs. It can look like hosting a place for testing products or trying things on. It can be a monthly repair clinic to teach people how to repair their clothing or furniture or other products.
An example of this community aspect of experiential retail is the Vans Los Angeles location. Their storefront acts as an art gallery, skate shop, and workshop where they offer free art workshops. Vans L.A. also partners with a non-profit to recruit unsheltered youth to work in their shop. They approach community building in a multi-faceted way that makes them a brand worth being loyal to.
Rather than focusing purely on sales, retail stores should be exploring ways that their business can benefit their community through memorable brand experiences.
Implement experiential retail through Clientbook
The key to experiential retail is understanding your customers and their reactions to your efforts. If you don't pursue a relationship with your customers, you'll never know if your efforts to engage them are paying off. Building long-term relationships with your customers is called clienteling, and this is made easy through the Clientbook app and web platform.
Clienteling should be an elemental part of your experiential retail plans. As you interact with customers, Clientbook allows you to store and track their information for future communications. You can get to know them as a person, understand their preferences, and in the future, send them personalized product recommendations through Clientbook. You can alert them about community events and classes, making sure they don't miss out on any unique experiences.
Clienteling and experiential retailing go hand-in-hand. Complement your experiential retail efforts with Clientbook's client-centric features that will leave your customers feeling understood and taken care of.
Experiential retail is the present and future of brick-and-mortar retail stores. Step out of the sales-centric mindset and into a creative, client-centric mindset. Pursuing these unique, engaging retail possibilities will help you to create an emotional connection with your customers.
Nurture and maintain that customer connection using Clientbook so you can follow your customers through their journeys, every step of the way. Book a demo today to see how Clientbook can help you level up your experiential retail efforts.