This week, days ahead of the start of international consumer goods fair, Ambiente 2018, the show announced a special installation called From Point of Sale to Point of Experience. Planned and designed by Munich design studio, Gruschwitz it promises to offer visitor a taste of the future of retail in the digital age.

The installation is set to put visitors in the role of the consumer as delegates set out on a future-oriented customer journey, introducing interactive shelves and augmented-reality wedding lists to name just a few elements and revealing the enormous potential of the bricks-and-mortar retail trade.

In an interview with the team at Ambiente, the design studio owner, Wolfgang Gruschwitz reiterated what UK retail trend specialists and forecasters have been predicting. He said: “Digital and analogue activities will be much more closely linked. This synchronisation requires centres that exist in real life, not just on the Internet.”

It is a topic the team of UK retail marketing specialists at The Retail Room touched on in its Bricks vs. Clicks blog last year and a trend that doesn’t seem to show any signs of abating. The fact is, consumers now demand more from their physical retail experience and if retailers and shopping centres want to bring customers through the doors, point of experience – rather than point of sale is the key.

Innovation research and advisory specialists, Stylus, last year described selling product as a “spin-off rather than the driving force” for boundary-breaking retail.

The assumed shift from ‘bricks’ to ‘clicks’ received a major shake-up when e-commerce giant Amazon opened a physical bookstore. Luxury brands also integrated the experiential into traditional retail space to boost declining footfall, for example ‘The Blue Box Café’ at the flagship Tiffany & Co store in New York. Here visitors can enjoy Audrey Hepburn’s famed breakfast while the brand, adding a revenue stream for the brand while also generating beautiful user generated content (UGC).

There is no doubt that rather than being an add on solution to ailing footfall, 2018 will see retail brands and shopping centres putting customer experience at the forefront of marketing and retail space planning. Concept stores with limited or no inventory have already begun to emerge, utilising space to deliver convenience and experience to customers.

Similarly shopping centres will need to think more creatively about how they use their physical space, attracting shoppers with engaging customer events, entertainment, food and drink and services such as click and collect, transforming them from shopping destinations to leisure and lifestyle destinations.

Kate Cox, Managing Director of The Retail Room, says: “We live in a physical world and despite the convenience that online offers, consumers still want interact with brands away from their devices. However, showcasing core product and latest trends is no longer enough.

“To thrive they need to create shopping destinations that embody their lifestyle and ethos to inspire loyalty and drive footfall. The product itself is secondary.”

Point of Experience – Who’s Doing It Well?

Sweaty Betty – London

The brand’s flagship store on Carnaby Street demonstrates the shift in retail focus in action, offering three floors of health, beauty and fitness services, including the ‘Farm Girl Café’, exercise classes and the ‘Duck and Dry’ blow dry studio, alongside a modest traditional ‘store’ space.

Adventure HQ – Abu Dhabi / Dubai

Outdoor equipment retailer Adventure HQ takes in-store experience to a new level with its four ‘Adventure Zones’ allowing shoppers to not only purchase all the essentials for high-octane hobbies but also take part in a host of activities such as caving, zip line, climbing walls, trampoline classes and indoor football sessions. They even cater for adult group parties and children’s birthdays.

The Grosvenor Shopping Centre – Chester

Proof that creating memorable and engaging experiences for customer can be simple and cost-effective, the Retail Room client, Grosvenor Shopping Centre’s explorer-themed LEGO campaign, PLAY BUILD EXPLORE aimed to attract and engage local families over the summer holidays. The campaign generated a combined social and PR reach of almost 500k and increased footfall to the centre by 8%.

Lush – UK (Various Locations)

Already a highly interactive brand, with in-store sampling and demos as standard, the brand’s touring ‘Lush Creative Showcase’ is an excellent example of focusing on customer experience. The creative showcases celebrate its wobbly shower gel with a jelly stage, its naked shower gel with actual showers as well as having slides, innovative new product showcases and sneak peeks at the technology it is experimenting with to make customer’s lives easier.

Nordstrom – USA, Various Locations

US fashion brand is rethinking its use of retail space with the launch of Nordstrom Local, a clothes store with no inventory that instead homes personal stylists, on-site tailoring and experiential activities like manicures and refreshments to create a relaxing environment, as well as facilitating same-day ordering,

Want to talk about how you could rethink your customer journey and deliver engaging experiences? Contact The Retail Room today.


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