I bought my first video game in quite a while the other day.
When I was a kid, I used to love buying video games. I would study the art on the box, open the case and read the entire booklet before even starting the game – really immerse myself in the experience.
When I bought my most recent game, I went to a website and clicked, “Buy Now.”
That’s how it is with most purchases; even fun stuff has become kind of dull. How we shop has changed, and, as a result, retail is evolving. Part of that evolution means that some chains are going to decrease the number of existing stores and focus instead on a few flagship stores where shopping will become an event.
But how will these stores transform the experience of shopping to bring back some of the joy? Well, that answer lies (at least, in part) in experiential retail.
Think of experiential retail as a new kind of customer service, one that provides an emotional benefit to shoppers.
Experiential retail is actually ideal for shoppers who research products and services online. As an informed consumer, when they walk into a store, they are ready to get hands-on with products or a simulation.
Experiential retail allows people to engage with brands in a comfortable setting – even though they’re in-store. These experiences can even make consumers get excited about a brand and feel more loyal to it, and they’re more likely to buy a product when they’re impressed by it.
A great example is the interactive HomeKit experience that Apple’s recently made available in 46 of its stores. HomeKit is Apple’s smart home initiative and, to be honest, Apple is playing a bit of catch-up. Google and Amazon already have smart home products on the market – and in people’s homes.
So, Apple’s HomeKit experience simulates what their new products can do outside of the store in a home setting.
Photo Credit: www.techcrunch.com
The home is actually a virtual room on an LED display. Using the “Home” app on an Apple Watch, iPhone, and iPad, users will be able to control various HomeKit-compatible components throughout the room. This includes turning on, off, and dimming lights; controlling the speed of a ceiling fan; and opening, closing, raising, and lowering window shades.
By offering these experiences inside its stores, Apple is getting people familiar with the capabilities of HomeKit. But, that could be done with a pamphlet (or a static display, which is the case for stores without the interactive experience). What Apple is truly doing is making an event out of its promotion, which gets people talking. Word-of-mouth can be especially persuasive, especially when describing how you turned on a fan with your watch. Experiential retail is a powerful form of advertising.
Experiential retail doesn’t always have to be a big and interactive. It’s also the thoughtful combination of the way an outlet looks, sounds, and even smells. It’s all about making the consumer take a moment and enjoy the event of shopping.
The convenience of shopping has made the act itself become a task. It’s up to retailers to bring some joy back to shopping.
Need some ideas for experiences to provide to your consumers? The Trade Group can help. Give us a call at 800-343-2005 to see how our grand concepts can help you create experiences.