Retail Executive

JAN-FEB 2018

Retail Executive is the trusted advisor to top retail executives from the industry’s most profitable retailers. We help retail executives succeed in their job role and grow their business via exclusive, actionable, peer-driven content.

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The Rise Of Experiential Retailing tion, free live music, sample stations, and in Wegmans' case — a staffed, secure, on-site childcare area. And, oh yeah, groceries. Both offer Instacart delivery. High price gripes aside (in Whole Foods' case), given their wide age range of customers, these companies have managed to turn the otherwise arduous chore of grocery shopping into an experience that offers something for everyone. STORY in New York City's Meatpacking District is another example of audience-driven experiential re- tailing. We've covered STORY over the years and its commitment to completely reinventing itself from the design to the merchandise with the goal of bringing to light a new theme, trend, or issue. Indeed, founder Ra- chel Shechtman is committed to experiential retailing, as she hosts events, including yoga classes and health- care panels, along with a rotation of events that raise brand awareness for their sponsors. DON'T BE THAT RETAILER Knowing your target customer is based on data. Per capita income, population density, education levels, ethnic concentrations, analysis of foot traffic, etc. will help you best serve up the unique in-store experiences your customers want. Analyzing this information will help you improve how you interact with customers. Simply offering free food and wine samples or cray- ons and coloring books to the kids doesn't equal true experiential retailing that leaves customers wanting more. These things are fine, but to make it in the brave new world of experiential retailing there needs to be a well-constructed organizational effort that marries personalization with elements uniquely associated with the brand — and, more importantly, different from those of the competition. Getting caught in the trap of doing and offering "cool stuff " for the customer isn't true experiential retailing, and it's likely not going to boost profits. Experiential retailing is a philosophy — and mindset — that differen- tiates your brand, and, done well, can improve the way customers interact with your brand for the long haul. R n an effort to make omni-channel retailing more appealing to customers, many retailers have taken to experiential retailing — revamp- ing the in-store experience to keep the customer happy and loyal, which, in turn, improves sales. In our last issue of Retail Executive, I talked about the why be- hind the need to focus on the customer experience in 2018. Here's the how. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE Your target demographic will tell you everything you need to know about the experiential retailing concepts to offer in your stores. Experiential retailing is about quality, not quantity, as it should offer not only a pleas- ant shopping experience that appeals to all five senses but also practical, hands-on opportunities for custom- ers to interact with products. Neck and neck for class valedictorian in experiential retailing are Nordstrom, Starbucks, and Apple. But other retailers have been de- livering on experience long before experiential retailing became a buzzword. REI, for example, offers classes to test out products, such as kayaks. L.L.Bean's associates offer to teach customers how to properly strap large out- door equipment to the roof of the car for safe traveling. From a grocery perspective, Wegmans and Whole Foods are examples of experiential retailing done well. At many locations, both companies offer a coffee bar, an eat-in pub, various and spacious seating areas to eat what you've purchased from the prepared foods sec- I E R I N H A R R I S Editor in Chief @ErinOnRetail REX viewpoint By E. Harris THE RISE OF EXPERIENTIAL RETAILING RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 6

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