Experiential stores and how retail is becoming an immersive story

Monday, Aug 24, 2020

Storytelling is what captivates us as individuals and more importantly – as shoppers. Retailers thrive in today’s industry by offering captivating experiences that help the tell the story of their brand.

Experiential retail has become an immersive story that consumers want to be a part of, and a necessary aspect of the in-store experience. By integrating physical stores with new technologies, this will deliver value to consumers that lasts way beyond their purchase. With an authentic in-store experience, customers are more likely to return later.

Retail TouchPoints released an article featuring retailers in the industry who have delivered memorable in-store experiences. These retailers are ones to watch out for, with their unique twists to the “traditional” store and their efforts think outside the box.

The following retail trailblazers have reinvented the brick-and-mortar experience:

The athletic-wear retailer opened their 20,000-square-foot Chicago flagship in 2019, which features a yoga room, a high-intensity training space and a meditation center. Lululemon’s studios accentuate the importance of community and fitness, and they even offer free gear for clients to wear during their classes.

The flagship also features a restaurant called “Fuel.” The restaurant’s health-centered food options range from smoothies, coffee, acai bowls to beer, wine, cocktails and more. The NYC location operates on the ground floor next to a rotating variety of small businesses. There are also movie screenings and mini-concerts held periodically to take the in-store experience to the next level and bring in more community members.

The retailer labeled itself “The Most Interesting Store in the World,” featuring over 14,000 square feet in a four-story NYC store. Showfields has designed an immersive theatrical experience within their store that combines art and retail. Shoppers can touch, eat, smell, or test all their products and art in-store.

The name “Showfields” comes from the two elements that are offered in-store – the show and the field. The show is a series of events at their in-store theater that combines retail, design, performance art and more. The field is a rotating collection of retail brands featured in-store, many of which are emerging online-only brands that are then adapted to their brick-and-mortar concept.

L’Occitane en Provence
The brand’s NYC Fifth Ave store was created to highlight L’Occitane’s seasonal campaigns through various merchandising-based experiences. The store features a social media area which includes a live feed of L’Occitane’s Instagram account. Visual elements in the store have become a key drawing factor, such as their “bike through Provence” concept, featuring stationary bikes against a beautiful French scenery. Their experimentation with VR has also been a unique addition to the retail game, with an in-store 360-degree VR-powered hot air balloon over France and a free hand massage. L’Occitane’s store also features a “rain-shower” sink which is used for shoppers to test out products.

Levi’s has delivered a Times Square Tailor Shop to their in-store experience. The shop allows shoppers to customize their favorite denim jeans or jackets, and add custom elements such as buttons, patches, embroidery and more. Levi’s store also offers jean repair and distressing, along with studding services and t-shirt printing with designs that customers have made themselves. The Tailor Shop features a customization bar mounted with iPads so customers can preview how their products will look with unique personalization’s.

Nike is known for adapting the latest in in-store experiences and emerging tech. The retailer has launched a variety of new concepts recently, each of them featuring everything a sport-lover could want and more. Nike’s NYC House of Innovation store features a “sneaker lab” with the largest collection of in-season Nike sneakers than anywhere else in the world. This space also includes an area for shoppers to customize their sneakers with dip-dyes or unique laces.

The top floor of the store features an Expert Studio, which give NikePlus members a chance to book one-on-one appointments with product experts for personalized consulting needs and access to exclusive merchandise. Mobile-integration has become a key part of the in-store experience at Nike. Their stores feature instant checkouts kiosks and “Shop the Look,” where shoppers can scan a QR code to browse items on mannequins and request to try on select products.

Macy’s launched a narrative-driven retail experience, STORY, in 36 stores nationwide. The retailer partnered with Levi’s, Crayola, MAC Cosmetics and more to create a shop driven by storytelling. STORY delivers new concepts and changing themes with unique collaborations, events and merchandise to drive discovery and inspiration among consumers. Macy’s started out with color as its first theme, inviting consumers to experience a range of colorful products and over 300 events.

Source: Top 7 Experiential Stores – Retail Touch Points, Macy’s STORY – Press Release
Photo Credit: Lululemon – Lincoln Park

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