What defines retail experience?

Retail experience is the new buzz phrase in the industry – retailers and commentators have recognised that a positive retail experience is what gives bricks & mortar stores the edge over online rivals. With e-commerce winning in many other areas (price, convenience etc.) it is therefore vital to define retail experience to ensure you can deliver it for shoppers.

Walking into a store is a retail experience. And finding what you want, and buying it, makes that experience a positive one. But of course this is not the type of experience that will be saving the High Street. So what is?

Environmental retail experience

One way to give shoppers a positive retail experience is by creating an on-brand environment that fits with their aspirations – through music, lighting, interior design, staff uniforms etc. you can persuade shoppers to think ‘this is the store for me’ and ‘I feel good about myself being in here’. This will encourage them to purchase in the moment, and it will also help create brand loyalty for the future.

Personal retail experience

The concept of personalisation in marketing has been gathering pace for the last few years and e-commerce has been using technological advances to deliver it online. But nothing can compete with a genuine face-to-face conversation – as long as the member of staff involved is trained both on the products they’re selling, and how to draw out the personal needs/ wishes of the customer.

Product retail experience

For many bigger ticket items, consumers want to see, touch and experience the product before they buy – from beds and sofas to TVs and music systems; and from clothes and make-up to coffee machines and vacuum cleaners. This provides an excellent opportunity for retailers to set themselves apart – by providing immersive, enjoyable and educational product demonstrations using high quality and well-trained staff.

One-off retail experiences

Having a bricks & mortar presence provides retailers with a platform to put on a whole host of different events. VIP evenings with exclusive discounts, fashion shows with personal shoppers, celebrity appearances to endorse products – these are all great ways to bring customers in-store, and the positive experience these people then have will also drive loyalty.

Extra retail experience

Everyone loves something for free, so this is a simple way to give shoppers a positive retail experience – a free coffee or juice, a chocolate sample, exclusive in-store discounts. This sense of being treated also makes consumers feel special, which adds to the positivity of the experience.

So retail experience has a broad definition, and retailers can choose which of these different elements are right for them (for example, a mass market retailer might find it hard to create retail environment that delivers a powerful brand connection) but what they shouldn’t do is ignore the concept altogether – because retail experience might be a buzz phrase, but it is also the concept that is driving the rebirth of the High Street.

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