While e-commerce continues to grow and absorb an increasing percentage of retail sales, traditional brick and mortar stores can still thrive. It’s impossible to compete with the ease and convenience online shopping offers, so retailers are focusing on an area that e-commerce can’t match: creating an innovative and immersive experience. When customers can purchase nearly everything they need with the click of a button, there must be a reason to drive them into a store. Offering something entertaining, educational, or otherwise engaging is the key to attracting shoppers. Technology can be an extraordinary asset in this process.

“With the advent of ecommerce software and the accessibility of shopping becoming easier, retail locations have to capitalize on what they have and what they do best, which is that they’re a destination,” says Mark Matthews, a digital strategist at NEXT/NOW. “Giving an original unique experience that you cannot get online, a tangible experience that you can then share with others is something that I think all forward-thinking retailers are looking at.” The strategy has proved successful enough that it’s actually inspired digital retailers like Warby Parker to create physical locations to promote their products as well.

Experiential Retail in Action

Many retailers in multiple industries, such as Ikea, Apple, and Ulta, have created experiences to draw customers to their brick and mortar locations. Socially conscious apparel brand TOMS, which matches each purchase of a pair of shoes with one for a child in developing countries, realized that technology could play a role in helping its customers see the impact of their business. “People wanted to see us walk the walk,” says a TOMS spokesperson. “Since it would have been impossible to bring each customer with us on our giving trips, we decided to bring the giving trips to them.”

The brand experimented with videos on iPads, but soon came up with a more innovative concept: VR headsets using footage from a giving trip in Peru. “People loved experiencing what it was like to travel, to meet these kids, to personally measure their shoe size, and to see the pure joy on their faces after receiving a new pair of TOMS,” says the spokesperson. “At the time, VR was gaining a reputation as an empathy machine, and the experience we created in our stores really touched people’s hearts.”

Some companies have expressed concern that retail experiences may attract crowds, but they wouldn’t translate to increased sales. Fortunately, TOMS discovered that there is a value even in customers who don’t make purchases themselves. “Initially, we were worried that the coffee shop aspect would make people too comfortable,” says the spokesperson. “We learned very quickly that even if people came to work and didn’t buy anything, their presence created a vibe and an energy that attracted others into the store that did buy product.”

B2B Experiential Retail

While the most prominent examples are the ones found in retail outlets themselves, suppliers can actually create an experience in a B2B context as well. That means showcasing product lines in an appealing and distinct way. “If I’m a buyer…I want to be able to have as much accessibility to your products as I could possibly have,” says Robert Greenberg, Sales Manager at Katalyst Technologies. However, it is simply impractical for buyers to review every piece of merchandise. That’s why Greenberg suggests suppliers create digital “look books” that display products in a more engaging way than a straightforward catalog.

In addition to providing a B2B “experience” of sorts, the economic value is also staggering. “You used to receive these 500-page Sears catalogs,” Greenberg says. “They would mail those out to hundreds of thousands of people. The cost of that was enormous. But if I can make that by way of a business-to-business website, think of how much money I just saved.” The process will reach a larger audience, boost earnings, and increase productivity.
Ways to Use Technology in Experiential Retail

Augmented reality

Anyone who has ever lugged a sofa up three flights of stairs only to discover it clashes with the color scheme of your apartment probably wishes there were a way to preview it before making the purchase. Augmented reality and product visualization make that possible—apps like Ikea Place allow you to find the perfect coffee table without having to wonder if it matches your aesthetic.

Social media

Millennials, who grew up with online shopping and have less of an attachment to traditional retail, particularly value experiences. They also value the ability to showcase their experiences on social media channels. Pop-up stores often feature Instagram-ready attractions, and promoting these is a great way to bring in customers.

Virtual experiences and entertainment
Take a test drive in a luxury car. Tour a national park. Walk the runway in Milan—all without leaving the store. These are just some of the virtual reality experiences retailers have offered. These unique opportunities allow customers to (vicariously) cross entries off their bucket lists and once again might inspire people who otherwise might not enter a store to come in—and possibly make a purchase. This way one can attract people in your digital ecommerce store.

Connect with us!

Source Link - https://katalysttech.com/blog/experiential-retail-its-whats-in-store/

Author's Bio: 

Brian Burell has completed his education in Computer Science and then he has started working in Digital & eCommerce, Enterprise Application and SCM segment for Katalyst Technologies Inc. After getting more than 7 years of experience in software solution, he found best interaction model of success. He really enjoys her success in software industry for start-up business and also in extending current model with highly reflective ROI.