Your Customers Want Experiential Retail: How To Deliver a Memorable Retail Experience

Learn the benefits of experiential retail for your brand and your customers

Your customers don’t need to visit your store to buy your products. Yes, we know – controversial statement. But – true.

People want to get out of the house and visit stores. But, people expect your store to be more than just a store.

Immersive. Personalized. Memorable. Interactive. Multisensory.

This is experiential retail.

This is what people want. This is what gets people walking into and spending money in your store.

Think like a curious 5-year old. Forget what you know about traditional retail. It’s time to go all in on experiential retail.

What is Experiential Retail?

Experiential retail is a retail strategy built on people and not selling products.

You’re walking by your local arts and crafts store. You’ve walked by this store hundreds of times and never given it a second glance. You’re not an artsy person.

But today. Today is different. Something catches your eye.

There are people in the window. You see people laughing and having fun. You stop. Take a closer look.

It’s an art class. Two people are standing in front of easels and flicking their paint brushes at the canvas. They are doing this in the window.

You can hear them talking excitedly about what they’re doing. You want to feel what they’re feeling.

Before you know it, you open the door and get in line so you can feel and experience the same thing. Turns out, you’re an artsy person. You leave the store with some new art supplies and have signed up for a weekly art class.

The window display made you stop, engage, and connect.

This is experiential retail.

Customers Want Experiences First

Boring retail is dead. People want more.

  • 81% of globally surveyed customers would pay more for in-store experiences that improve their shopping experience
  • 60% of surveyed consumers expect retailers to give more floor space to experiences than products
  • 35% of surveyed consumers plan to interact with brands using experiential retail
  • 75% of surveyed European consumers say an immersive retail experience would convince them to shop in-store rather than online
  • 70% of surveyed consumers will choose a competing store if it offers a memorable experience

(Westfield How We Shop, Shopify)

Four Benefits of Experiential Retail for Brands and Retailers

Does it feel like every single article you read about retail is espousing the benefits of experiential retail? Here’s the thing – the internet is right.

These four benefits of experiential retail for brands and retailers emphasize why it’s time to start bending the rules of retail:

  1. Increased foot traffic
    The more foot traffic, the greater the chance of sales. Experiential retail gives people a reason to seek out your store.
    Integrate your experiential retail strategy into your store – to make it feel natural and part of the entire store experience.
    Remember the keys of visual merchandising – color, layout, decompression zones, lighting, and store layout when planning and installing your immersive experience.
  2. Brand awareness
    You want to be the go-to brand in your niche – the brand people think of first, talk about, and choose first. This is where experiential retail helps you stand out from the crowd.
    Truly think like a curious five-year old. What do people expect from your brand? Do the opposite. What have you always done with your windows and graphics during the holidays and seasonal sales periods? Do something completely different.
    Get people talking. Think creatively and look for ways to entertain, amuse, stoke curiosity – while helping your customers solve their problems and fulfill a need.
  3. Social engagement
    House of Vans. Casper. Ikea. These brands know that people want to share their shopping experiences on social media.
    So, these brands created experiential retail installations designed to be easily shareable on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and elsewhere. These brands know that people don’t want to be left out, and want to experience what they see others doing and sharing.
    The trickle-over impacts to increasing foot traffic, building brand awareness, and fostering connections cements the importance of social media for brick-and-mortar retail.
  4. Community connection
    Your physical store has the power to bring people together and create a community around your brand, products, and services.
    Think of ways you can encourage people to visit your store regularly that is beyond buying your products.
    In-store classes and workshops, live events such as concerts or guest speakers hosting other community groups or causes, pop-ups, art gallery installations, etc. are all great ways to build a community connection and give people an experience they cannot get from shopping online.

Experiential Retail Strategy not Hype

There is a very fine line between experiential retail success and failure. It is tempting to rush in and try all the things – going big is not necessarily the right approach.

You need to remember your customers. You need to remember why your brand exists. You need to remember why people want and need your products.

Your experiential retail strategy needs to align with these.

This is how you avoid crossing the line from strategy into hype.

Think about your customers and their challenges and problems. How can you fulfill these and stand out from your competitors?

It’s the holiday season and you have dragged your two tweens to your local mall. No one wants to be there. But you need to buy gifts.

After a lot of feet dragging and shoulder shrugging, you finally end up at the food court. Everyone is hungry. No one has bought any gifts. No one is smiling.

You plunk down on the hard plastic seating and get ready for a pep talk over your lukewarm burgers and fries. And then you see them. Mini pop-ups in the food court. Mini pop-ups for the very stores you just walked in and out of without buying anything.

Each pop-up features some kind of technology or entertainment – one is a virtual fitting room, one is livestreaming a concert, one is a t-shirt design studio, and one appears to be just a cluster of comfy chairs.

The burgers and fries are long forgotten. Your kids are sucked into these mini-pop-ups. They return to your table excited and babbling about needing to go back to all the stores they didn’t like.

Turns after trying on an outfit at the virtual fitting room, watching part of the concert, designing a t-shirt, or chilling out in a comfy chair – your kids were given QR codes that in the actual store unlocks a secret vault of products only accessible to people who found and used the mini-pop-ups.

At each store you returned to, your kids were ushered into a back room featuring just a handful of products. The thing is these products are not yet released to the general public. T-shirts featuring brand new designs. Sneakers from their favorite basketball stars. Special pre-sale concert tickets and swag. Books from their favorite authors.

The final catch – the kids were told they absolutely could not share these cool new products on social media… of course, this is exactly what your kids did when they got home…

The next day, LinkedIn is buzzing about the mini-pop-ups at the food court and how the new products are all over social media – resulting in more foot traffic, more social shares, and long lines outside of these stores. Online news sites are analyzing this retail strategy – drawing even more attention to the stores, the products, and the shopping mall.

Don’t you wish your store had thought of this idea?

This is an example of experiential retail that works.

Identify the challenge or problem – no one enjoys holiday shopping and going to the mall with your parents is a drag. Identify a way to create a memorable and immersive experience that solves the challenge – kids are excited, parents are relaxed, everyone leaves the mall happy – including the retailers who are surpassing sales goals.

Are you ready to think like a curious five-year old and do something completely unexpected?

At Dynamic, our unique combination of IN-HOUSE offerings makes us your single source provider for all your retail fixture and visual merchandising needs. No one understand retail design and installation better than we do.

Contact us to learn how we handle any aspect of your business – from an individual installation to a global roll-out.