The concept behind experiential retailing is that people are bored with purchasing tangible products; what they really crave is adventures. When shoppers actually need things, they could purchase them online and have them delivered. Visiting a shop is just too dull.
International mall operator Westfield conducted a poll of its shoppers in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2015 and discovered that people desire a multisensory experience when visiting a shop. Purchasing a new dress or a new pair of sneakers is no longer enough to satisfy them. They require amusement as part of this procedure, a concept called”retailtainment.” As more brick-and-mortar stores near, mall operators and chain shops are getting onboard with the idea.
- Mall owners are retooling their possessions and rethinking the notion of the anchor store.
- Owners are looking for smaller specialty shops that combine physical products with interactive experiences and integrating more technology.
- Owners are altering the store mix — relying on restaurants, nail salons, beauty salons, and fitness companies to lure folks to malls. Upscale malls today include yoga studios, meditation centers, and art galleries.
- Shops are providing more interactivity. Sporting goods stores can offer rock climbing walls and golf stroke simulators. Outdoor outfitters offer lectures and courses for first-time adventurers. High-end cookware shops offer cooking classes in addition to demonstrations. Upscale grocery shops are opening wine and beer bars beside their coffee bars.
Shops without Inventory
A more radical approach that’s gaining interest is to take care of the purchase of physical goods as an afterthought. Stores without inventory are getting to be popular based on the premise that holding physical stock is too costly.
Online menswear merchant Bonobos, lately bought by Walmart, is a pioneer in inventoryless shops. Presently Bonobos operates over 40″Guide Shops,” where men make an appointment online and then visit the Guide Shop to try on clothes, receive information from”guides” who help them put together outfits. If they like the results, they can make a purchase and possess the outfit delivered by 2-day atmosphere.
Nordstrom is currently following Bonobos’ example. It recently declared”Nordstrom Local,” a line of small (3,000 square feet) stores. The normal Nordstrom store has 140,000 square feet. The first Nordstrom Local shop will open in West Hollywood, Calif. in October. It will have eight dressing rooms where shoppers can try on clothing, but all purchases will be sent to the client. Private stylists will be available to pick outfits for shoppers. The shops may also have bars where shoppers can purchase wine or juice.
Other planned offerings at Nordstrom Local locations include manicures and onsite tailoring. Nordstrom’s”Purchase Online, Pick-Up In-Store” service are also available. If customers purchase online by two p.m., they could pick up their items in the shop the same day. Curbside pick-up will also be supplied. Returns can be dropped off at any Nordstrom Local.
On the other hand, the Nordstrom Local shop will offer a style board that allows stylists create an electronic catalog with items personalized for a client. In the long run, customers can buy items from their fashion board and communicate with stylists through that catalogue application.
Going against the micro-store plan, clothier and lifestyle merchant Anthropologie is opening several bigger shops — between 20,000 and 30,000 square feet. The shops have 12 full-scale, elaborately decorated rooms and provide home styling consultations. Sensory elements include mood lighting, music, and artwork. The purpose is to make individuals feel as though they’re in a lavish home where they can relax.
Experiential retailing isn’t limited to apparel and housewares. Lowe’s, the big box hardware series, caters to do-it-yourself types and a number of its stores have a dedicated space for virtual reality do-it-yourself learning. Shoppers don a pair of goggles, and use a control to finish a virtual project. The experience gives them greater assurance to complete a real job in their own homes.
Can Experiential Retailing Succeed?
While retail chains are reacting to what they think consumers want in a shopping experience, success isn’t assured. Malls may recover by switching to support companies but retailers that sell physical products will need to make sales. The risk is that clients may browse, have a glass of wine, try on a couple of things, and walk out the door and never purchase anything — either online or in-store.
There’s already been one setback from the experiential shopping kingdom. Premium kitchen and bath retailer Pirch declared store closures in four cities. Pirch’s showrooms are elaborately designed and shoppers may even have a shower. However, the showrooms have high fixed costs as well as the goods target wealthy clients.
Experiential retailing may prove to be a short-lived trend. It targets shoppers with the time and need for retail amusement. This might be a relatively small slice of the general public.
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