We know retailers are always looking for ways to beat online competitors. We also can see that successful retailers are adapting a previously siloed strategy to now ensure that all their channels (physical, online, mobile) work together, delivering the shopper a blended experience, no matter where they decide to purchase. For physical retail in particular, there are some specific areas where technology and merchandising can play a key part in keeping the channel competitive and relevant. Some of the main areas where technology and merchandising can help include:
A Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas, is helping consumers avoid the queue by making every aisle the check-out aisle this holiday season. The store also offers in-store wayfinding through the Walmart App Shoppers can simply speak the name of the product they're looking for (for example, 'bedding') and the Walmart app will guide them there.
The recent opening of the 'House of Innovation 000' by Nike, is a great example of taking experiential retail to the next level. The 6 stories across more than 68,000 sq ft in New York offers many experiences that are both personal and responsive - two factors which are easier to deliver online, but Nike have managed to bring in-store. For example, with Shop The Look, shoppers can scan a code on an in-store mannequin, browse every item that the mannequin is dressed in, check to see if specific sizes are available in-store and then request for a store associate to send the items to a fitting room. The space features 'maker' studios where shoppers can personalize their shoes. And like the Walmart example above, you can also skip the lines and pay with the Nike app while you're in-store, or visit aNike Instant Checkout station located throughout the store where customers can bag their purchases themselves.
Nordstrom is investing in experiential retail by replacing inventory with activity in some stores. The Nordstrom Local concept that launched in LA invites customers to gather and socialize over glasses of wine or beer, get a manicure and meet with personal stylists. By identifying a factor that online shopping can't compete with, the retailer built luxurious dressing rooms where shoppers can try on outfits they ordered online and if the clothing doesn’t fit, a tailor is on hand to make the alterations on site.
Sephora introduced a Beauty Hub in-store - featuring technology that allow for precision color matching for foundation shades by scanning the shopper's face. There is also a Virtual Artist service where shoppers can test looks on an iPad or connected mirror equipped with thousands of looks. Though the retailer offers many self service options like this, they still also acknolwedge the importance of knowledagble associates instore for the optimial experience. In fact, Deborah Yeh, senior vice president of marketing and brand at Sephora, has stressed the importance of thinking about technology and store associates "in balance."
Hailed as the first of it's kind, Johnny Walker has launched an 'Experiential Whisky Retail Store' - A flagship experiential retail store in Madrid. It's an interesting take on almost creating a tourist trip to Scotland within the retail store in Madrid, and allowing visitors to explore the brand in a new, creative, and very memorable way.
Here, we take a look at some of the experiences on offer by the Scotch Whiskey brand, and what other beverage retailers can learn from this initiative.
The store was created to become a destination for Scotch lovers and whiskey novices, and they achieve this with live events and classes. There are whisky appreciation classes and tastings designed to help people explore the brand, and an interactive hosting area where guests can discover the craft of cocktail making. The brand has also worked to introduce seasons offerings such as Johnnie Walker cocktail-experts in-store who can demonstrate how to introduce cocktails and food pairings for parties over the holiday season.
We know consumers are increasingly seeking more personalized experiences, and Johnnie Walker doesn't disappoint in this area. One of the experiences available in-store is an interactive hosting area, where shoppers can find and add bespoke engravings and labels to purchases. This makes for a great souvenir of the visit for shoppers.
Although located in Madrid, the store whisks visitors to the four corners of Scotland through a virtual experience called "Discover Scotland through Johnnie Walker'. Guests can discover the "breathtaking Highlands, the intrigue of the Islands, the lush lowlands and the secrets of Speyside, culminating in a taste of Johnnie Walker". This creative storytelling format enhances the shoppers experience of (and connection to) the brand.
On offer are some of the rarest and most exceptional single malts from Johnnie Walker and limited editions exclusive to the store - another reason to visit the store.
Johnnie Walker joins other spirit brands such as Guiness - who brought a $90 million brewery with experiential retail elements to Maryland. Almost 300,000 people visit the brewery every year, proving this to be a winning technique for spirit brands.
We’re excited to welcome a new Creative Director to our team! Bill Masto joins us from the March of Dimes where he was the Director of Creative Services, working on the initiative to lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Bill is an accomplished creative director, well versed in strategic brand development and positioning, and we are looking forward to his joining our team.
We speak to Bill about what inspires him and what he’ll be bringing to the In-Store team!
Tell us a little more about you...
I am an experienced Creative Director and Visual Designer with over 20 years of art direction and award winning designs. Extensive understanding of marketing and brand objectives and the value of effective communications. I am a strong conceptual thinker and strategically focused visual designer. I have expertise in transforming and refreshing brands by developing creative solutions for identities, products, packaging, websites, digital experiences, advertising and communications. I work with strategy, account, marketing and creative teams to forge solutions that help to define and activate brands.
What inspires you?
Growing up I was always into the arts — at all times I found myself doing something creative like drawing, painting, collage and writing. I received my B.F.A after taking a combination of fine art and design classes which continued to feed my passion for creativity. I have always been intrigued by the marriage of words and images, which lead me to focus my career on design. My main source of inspiration comes from experiencing other people's creativity — whether it's walking through an art exhibit, viewing a digital design portfolio, listening to music, or being moved by a well crafted video.
What will you be bringing to the In-Store team?
In-Store Experience is modernizing the retail experience by strategizing, creating and enhancing consumer engagement — I am thrilled to be part of an impressive team and collaborative culture. My goal as the Director of Multimedia Design is to offer powerful, innovative and effective creative solutions as part of the continued evolution of this highly successful company.
What's your most memorable instore experience?
I am an in store shopper — always been, and always will be. The experience of feeling and learning about a product before purchasing it has given me confidence and loyalty with many different brands — and at the top of my list is Apple. Many may think of them as a product focused company, but in fact they have revolutionized and transformed in store into a destination to have meaningful and educational experiences.
As one of the world’s major sports footwear manufacturers, New Balance has expanded their product line over the years to include other sports related products, such as apparel. Bringing their footwear and apparel together into a visual merchandising solution was the task on the table for In-Store Experience team.
New Balance needed to display 4-6 pairs of shoes, as well as a mannequin who would showcase related apparel.
Another requirement was building a solution that could be used at product introduction events as the New Balance teams conducted roadshows across the country.
This involved constructing a solution that was light and portable, easy to assemble and disassemble multiple times with no tools, and be able to fit in a vehicle for easy transport.
The In-Store team’s first submission of creative was immediately approved, and went on to production. This visual merchandising solution is being used at product introduction events across the country.
s a leading designer and manufacturer of a full range of golf equipment, Bridgestone golf was looking for an innovative way to merchandise their golf balls, clubs and accessories. The team at Bridgestone Golf challenged three display companies to meet this task. They had a few requirements:
The results? The display empowered retailers to merchandize various product mixes and to maximize floor space, with several retailers seeing a sales lit by as much as 25%!
Knowing that other people (like you) have made the same decision you’re about to make and have had a good outcome is very persuasive. It’s the concept of ‘social proof’ - coined in Cialdini’s book “Influence: The psychology of persuasion’. It’s something we often see online - but how does this manifest in in-store experiences?
Enter Amazon’s new store which opened in Soho recently. We wrote about this recently in our blog. The concept is that only products rated 4-stars or higher are featured - allowing consumers to trust in the curated assortment of products. Add to ihat the ability for consumers to physically see the products in-store - something we know that customers look for - and you have a winning combination.
Jason Goldberg highlighted the impact of the store on retail in a recent Forbes article where he pointed to how Social Proof was being used in the store - and how it’s a powerful tool for the purchase process. “This model is upending competitors’ ideas about assortment, social proof in-store, and new discovery experiences.” he writes.
While social proof in the form of ratings and reviews has become one of the most important factors in driving online purchase behaviors (above and beyond branding!), it’s almost always devoid in in-store experiences. So this new format introduced by Amazon is changing that. Furthermore, they have added the element of live, up to date updates, by replacing traditional paper fact tags, with electronic shelf labels reflecting reviews and ratings in real-time.
This store format is not a novelty, but will be around for a while, and gives retailers ideas on how to integrate social proof into their in-store experience.
Amazon has opened a physical store in Soho, NY which is filled with products that are trusted -- they either are rated 4-stars and above, are top sellers, or are trending.
The company claims to have created a space which is a direct reflection of their customers - specifically catering to what they're buying and what they're 'loving'.
Starting with some of the most popular categories on Amazon.com, and layering on zones in the store for 'Most-Wished-For', 'Trending Around NYC', and 'Frequently bought together' - the space is designed to allow customers to discover products they love - and reflect Amazon's online shopping habits, but in a physical environment. There are even customer review cards to accompany products.
As Digiday pointed out,this is a look at how Amazon is shaping how the department store of the future looks like, where customers decide on inventory, not buyers - putting pressure on big-box retailers to curate selections based on customer feedback. The use of real data - and stocking products that will have guaranteed success is truly innovative.
There are many techniques that retailers use to continue to drive foot traffic into their physical stores. In this article, we share just a few to get you thinking.
Turning a shopping trip into a destination through events
By bringing educational classes, or other experiential elements to your store, you can get customers thinking about a shopping visit as a desirable event outing instead. And as we know, the longer your customer spends in-store, the high probability they have of making a purchase.
For example, Williams-Sonoma offer cooking classes-instore where people can learn how to use products and sample the merchandise. Home Depot offer kids craft and building classes on the first Saturday of every month. And Lululemon has also found success in holding free yoga classes during slow business hours to drive traffic in-store. Classes feature products sold by Lululemon and this increases basket size in the process.
Offer services to complement your products
For retailers whose products require maintenance, offering services for free to in-store customers to encourage people to stop by. For example, Tanzanite Jewelry designs provides in-store services such as jewelry cleaning and battery replacement to help increase traffic and sales. In the cosmetics space, personal stylist consultations or makeovers can help drive shoppers instore. For example, Sephora offers free mini-makeovers where their highly trained make-up artists teach you how to use their products, often leading to not just sales, but repeat purchases by shoppers who are extremely happy with their selection.
Provide personalized recommendations and advice in-store
One of the leading benefits of making purchases in physical retail stores is that your customers get to physically experience the product before making a purchase, as well as access to sales staff who can help with personalized recommendations. Retailers are tapping into this benefit, as well as introducing technologies which can mirror the benefits of online shopping, such as self checkout or sales staff having access to a customer’s past shopping history or preferences before offering advice in-store. All of this is helping bridge the gap between the online purchase experience and the instore shopping experience.
Rethinking the grocery store experience from being a transitory destination to becoming an exploratory destination full of discovery is proving to be a worthwhile approach for grocery retailers.
Here are a few techniques stores are using to encourage shoppers to stay in store and elevate the in-store experience.
L’Occitane en Provence has opened up a new retail destination in New York in the form of an interactive boutique. Following the experiential retail trend, the new store is 1,870 square feet of sensory delight. Designed by international artistic director Daniel Contorni and Blackburn, it’s a step into the cobblestoned streets of Provence and all that this entails.
So what does move towards experience this mean for retail? It means the bar has been set higher for in-store experiences. Here’s just a few things that are inspirational about the L’Occitane retail experiences that other retailers can learn from and be inspired by.
A glocal approach
In addition to providing an immersive, delightful experience in New York, L’Occitane has adopted a ‘glocal’ approach, creating customized experiences tailored for local clientele - whether that be in Brazil, Paris, London, China, Singapore or Toronto. These experiences have worked hard to turn each L’Occitane location into a destination, showcasing the local portfolio of services on offer.
An evolutive space
Each location is seen as an ‘evolutive space’ - which continuously changes with the seasons to reflect different campaigns. This continuously change helps keep the physical retail locations fresh and relevant, giving customers a reason for repeat visits, and avoiding a ‘been there, done that’ attitude.
Experiencing it live
From in-store cafés and macaroons to customized products and complementary beauty treatments, L’Occitane provides even more reasons for customers to visit the physical store while telling the brand’s story through these physical experiences. For example, the new flagship on Regent Street in London offers personalised product engraving, complimentary hand and arm massages and beauty consultations in private rooms, as well as an in-store café offering limited edition Pierre Hermé macaroons. Delightful.
An upsurge in impulse buying mean that the point of purchase (POP) is playing a more important role in consumers’ decision making than ever before.
So why are consumers open to impulse purchases, despite their best intention to seek special deals or wait for sales?
There are many reasons. Here, we cover just a few behind the continuing and increasing success of the POP strategy in driving the impulse purchase.
We speak to Tim Bauer, who is the most recent addition to the In-Store team. Here's what he had to say...
What's your background?
In May, I graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a Bachelors Degree in Marketing. Prior to my return to college, I spent a few years living in Kent, CT. In that part of the state, life moved a little slower than I was used to, but it turned out it was exactly what I needed. In my free-time I played a lot of guitar, went hiking in the mountains, and fished in the river by my house. I used this time to decompress, grow up, and map out the kind of future I wanted for myself.
The most important thing I took away from my time in Kent was learning the value of hard work. An average day for me consisted of maintaining dozens of acres of property from the early hours of the morning until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. From there I would head directly to the restaurant where I worked as a server, often until 11 o’clock at night. It was exhausting. But no matter how tired I may have been, I learned to appreciate the drive one must possess in order to be successful.
After a couple years of working 16 hour days, I realized that I wanted more out of life. Luckily for me I knew what the solution was. Something I had previously given up on was now attainable. Going back to school was a difficult decision to make as it required several sacrifices. But anything worth having is worth fighting for right? This time around I had a newfound motivation to give it my absolute best effort, and earn my degree.
So that’s exactly what I did. I set goals for myself, visualized them every day, and before I knew it, they started coming true. I credit my present success to the lessons I learned working many long days at hard jobs. I’ve carried that motivation and willingness to learn to every task that comes my way. I don’t believe that I’m better than any job or feel that I’m done learning. Right now, I’m doing my best to act like a sponge and absorb all that I can from the amazing talent at In-store Experience. I am extremely grateful to have landed here. I’ve never been a part of such a positive corporate culture and I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to show my worth.
What inspires you?
I have always been a creative thinker. As a child, my favorite toy was my imagination. It allowed me to be who ever I wanted in whatever world I dreamt up. As I got older, I never lost touch with that aspect of my character. As a result, I’m very much inspired by creative arts, whether it be improvisation in a musical number or some obscure medium used to create an otherworldly artistic masterpiece. Art as a form of expression is not only inspiring but enjoyable. I think it’s wonderful to see what can become of an artist who pours their mind, body, and spirit into their work. I still actively play music and illustrate on paper. For me, music and drawing are not only a beneficial mental exercise, but also a therapeutic reprieve. You could say that I am very passionate about art and music. When I see other people doing what they love, what they’re passionate about - that inspires me.
Tell us more about what you'l be doing at In-Store Experience and what you'll bring to the team.
I think I bring a willingness to learn and participate which now-a-days feels uncommon among my generation. I want to be involved and help out in any capacity that I can. Having worked at so many different kinds of jobs afforded me the opportunity to acquire skills that I may otherwise not have learned. I believe this, coupled with my natural abilities to illustrate, problem solve, and communicate, has helped me to develop into a uniquely qualified individual.
My focus right now at In-Store Experience is in project management. I am working hard to familiarize myself with every phase of the project life cycle. I have great mentors here like Chris and Frank who have been doing this for a while. I would be a fool not to absorb the wisdom they possess through their many years of experience.
What's been the best experience you've had at In-Store so far?
Within the first couple weeks of starting at In-Store as an intern, our boss and the owner of the company Chris Anderson took us all out for an awesome lunch right by the water on a beautiful summer day. He took a moment to welcome me to the team, and that gesture deeply resonated with me. And he’s taken us all out several times since.
I saw pretty quickly how well Chris treated his employees. I believe he treats us so well because he truly values everyone’s role in the company. For a business to be successful, the office culture has to be built on a foundation of respect. You really feel that here. Not a day goes by where I feel overlooked or unappreciated. Having that feeling instilled in you from day one makes you want to work harder because you know your effort will be acknowledged.
No doubt you’ve come across headlines in the news about a ‘retail apocalypse’ – the claim that physical retail is dying. At the same time, there are just as many headlines that speak to physical retail’s growth.
We’ve seen e-commerce brands such as Casper and Everlane launching pop ups and other new store formats to engage with their customers in physical locations. Store advisors have been identified as playing a critical part in the consumer decision making process. Let’s also not forget that alongside announcements of store closings, a number of brands have announced the widespread opening of new stores across the US in 2018, including Ulta (100 new stores), Dollar General (900 new stores), Ross Stores (100 new stores).
As Steve Dennis wrote in a recent Forbes contribution “Physical retail is not dead. Boring retail is”.
Here’s a collection of just a few pieces of advice we’ve found on becoming part of the retail renaissance.
Experiential may have become a retail marketing buzzword – but it’s an important one. It means using sensory inputs such as visual merchandising, sound, smell, touch and taste to create emotional memories. Or providing other reasons and experiences for customers to visit a store and engage with your brand. You can see this already in trends such as the rise of ‘grocerants’ – changing a simple visit to the grocery store into an attractive place to explore food and dine as you would a restaurant. Or other stories such as STORY – a gift retail establishment in the meatpacking district that hosts events such as yoga classes and healthcare panels.
Customers respond to personalized experiences and personalized offers that are tailored to their needs. In a research report by Segment, it was found that personalization presented a huge in-store opportunity, as physical stores are more likely to drive last-minute purchases over $50. A simple way to improve personalization could be to allowing sales associates to be able to see customers online shopping history instore to help them provide better recommendations. Or using apps in-store to help push in-store discounts.
Intuitive is best
The most important factor to be successful in physical retail is to be intuitive – allow the customer to find what they want, and check out with ease. Regardless of what technologies or experiences you bring in-store – this must be the priority, and in the quest to incorporate the latest retail trend or technology, it’s at the risk of getting overlooked.
We don’t believe there is a retail apocalypse. Instead, we simply see an increasing need to shift the way brands do retail to meet rising consumers expectations.