Five brilliant examples of experiential retail

For years we’ve heard about the demise of the traditional store. There have been multiple casualties on the high street and the likes of Amazon have made online shopping highly attractive.

Yet, some bricks and mortar stores are still pulling in the punters. Walk past an Apple store on any given Saturday and you’ll see that well-designed stores are undoubtedly working. It’s all about creating a retail experience.

Customers no longer want to walk into a shop, buy something and leave. They can do this online – without having to face till queues and weekend shoppers.

Today, customers are seeking a combination of entertainment and retail. They want a store to understand their likes and to give them a truly personalised experience.

So, what does experiential retail look like when it’s done well? Here are five examples.

Farfetch – store of the future

Luxury clothing retailer Farfetch has a vision for their new London store, which involves taking customer data collected online and applying it to experiences in store.

By downloading an app, you’ll be recognised as soon as you enter the store, providing assistants with an instant overview of your purchasing habits and likes.

In addition, RFID-enabled clothes rails detect products that interest you and add them to your online wish list. While touch-screen mirrors enable you to request alternative sizes as well as to pay without leaving the dressing room.

This all sounds very sci-fi, but it’s really about a brand that’s putting customer experience first, while combining both online and real-world channels.

House of Vans

The House of Vans in London works seamlessly with Vans’ “Off the Wall” brand strapline. Here customers can catch a film, listen to live music, eat, shop – and, of course, skate.

Beneath the buzz of the 30,000 square foot building is a free-to-use ramp and street course for skaters and BMXers. Customers can simply drop in and enjoy a few hours of socialising and skating, while simultaneously appreciating the brand.

Reading Spa at Mr B’s, Bath

Low-tech, but highly effective, Mr B’s in Bath offers bookworms a spa-like experience in their store. Here you discuss your reading likes with a team member and they’ll leave you with tea and cake, while they search out your perfect reading list.

When your bibliotherapist returns, they’ll personally introduce you to each book before giving you the chance to choose the ones you fancy. There are no gadgets, or expensive stunts here. Instead, Mr B’s is offering an alternative to impersonal one-click ordering and turning book-buying into something more memorable and luxurious.

Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Mirrors

At Charlotte Tilbury’s flagship store in London, customers have access to two touchscreen Magic Mirrors. These fairytale-style screens allow you to ‘try on’ each one of Tilbury’s 10 signature looks – in as little as 40 seconds!

No more messing around with tester pots and samples. Now you can layer on the look digitally and get a feel for what suits. There’s even the chance to change your look from ‘desk to disco’ and to email yourself a picture when you’re done.

Audi VR showroom experience

Car brands are aware that the showroom experience is essential for building brand loyalty. In light of this, Audi offers potential customers a VR experience that shows off their vehicles in a more personalised way.

Using a VR headset, you can take a look at all of Audi’s customisable options before buying or ordering your car. Smaller showrooms can only ever stock a few vehicles, so the VR experience is an effective way to see every option available.

To add a little extra joy, you can even take your Audi to the moon, or enjoy a 100-second pit stop experience.

Experience is everything

These are just five examples of experiential retail. There are many others, and hundreds more in the making.

Whether you’re selling books or boots, cosmetics or cars, creating an immersive and unique in-store experience is now essential.

It’s not all about spending millions on fancy gadgets – although that can help. It’s more about offering a personalised, memorable experience that drives brand affinity – and offers an unparalleled service to your customers.

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