News • Feb 20 2024
insight • Jul 12 2022
In the world of retail, staying competitive means staying on the cutting edge of what consumers really want. It’s being flexible and nimble and acutely in tune with the needs of today’s consumers — all with an eye toward driving revenue in unique and creative ways.
Many traditional brick and mortar retailers are looking outside of the box and searching for creative ways to make the retail experience more compelling through more experiential design initiatives. The consumer experience at well-known retail establishments such as Nike, Dick’s, and Target looks a little different than it did just a few years ago.
Just this past year, Nike introduced their “Nike Live” concept in several stores across the country. These stores feature increased engagement opportunities between employees and customers — with a unique twist. The stores are designed to reflect what’s most important to that particular community as a means to drive engagement, connection, and, ultimately, sales.
For instance, the Nike store in Eugene Oregon is only minutes away from the University of Oregon. Product offerings at that location center largely around what college students and college athletes are most interested in. Running is especially popular and the Nike Store is a place where new and experienced runners can connect. The store features interactive maps to some of Eugene’s most popular running trails with difficulty ratings, tips for what shoes to wear (product tie-in), and how to stay safe on the trails. Additionally, store employees are able to text interested customers about the latest product offerings and events. This keeps the brand and the store top of mind to consumers while also keeping them engaged and connected.
The business theory behind the concept of experiential retail is the idea that retail stores can (and perhaps should) do more than just sell products on their shelves. By offering experiences and touch points that are meaningful to customers, retailers have the opportunity to increase the length of time people stay in their store and help grow their bottom line.
And speaking of growing the bottom line, Dick’s has been an especially visionary leader in the world of experiential retail, particularly during the pandemic.
They have been noted for being masterful at constantly reinventing their offerings in response to a changing market. Dick’s recently unveiled their “House of Sport and Public Lands” banner. The House of Sport offers unique sporting activities immersed within the retail experience. Things like rock climbing and practicing your putt. And when you combine these experiences with the opportunity to purchase golf accessories and rock climbing accessories just steps away, it’s sort of a 2.0 way for customers to try before they buy.
Experiential design and retail may have begun as a matter of survival for many retailers at the beginning of the pandemic, but now as we move closer and closer to a return to normal, pre-pandemic ways of life, retailers are tapping into a growing desire among consumers for increased convenience and increased connection to the products they love.
If you’ve visited a Target store or a Kohl’s store recently you may have noticed a sort of store within a store.
Target stores recently carved out space for Ulta beauty stores in their footprint. And while Ulta beauty is a successful brand in its own right, these new “store within a store” concepts will appeal to existing customers and also attract new customers.
Kohl’s is also offering an experiential retail environment through their partnership with Sephora. Similar to the Target and Ulta beauty offering, The appeal here is to serve current Sephora customers as well as attract prospective new customers. These Sephora “stores within a store” offer the same personalization with beauty consultants as well as the added convenience of in-store returns.
Camp is a self-described experiential retailer combining the traditional shopping experience with hands-on, interactive play for both kids and adults.
Their current flagship store, located in New York City, has partnered with a leader in creating exceptional experiences: Disney, to roll out “Mickey and Friends X Camp” within their store this year.
Disney is famous for creating masterful, immersive experiences that engage and captivate audiences of all ages. This so-called Disney “magic” is something Camp seeks to bring to customers and audiences in their stores. Plans include an interactive experience billed as a “larger than life adventure where families climb, zip, slide, bounce, dance, and work together to save the day.”
This new experience complements the already robust Camp merchandise and gives customers even more reason to stay, shop, and spend money.
The trend in retail toward experiential design seems to be on the rise. The pandemic accelerated this trend as more and more people turned toward their smartphones to make retail purchases safely and conveniently from the comfort of home. Now, consumers are being wooed by retailers who are skillfully using experiential design trends to marry that safety and convenience with what amounts to a really unique experience.
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