Resurrecting Retail: Experiential > Traditional

The market is changing. 

“The Great Retail Apocalypse.” We’ve all heard about it, and seen its dreaded effects on the market as beloved former giants such as Sears, Toys R’ Us and Radioshack have filed for bankruptcy and effectively disappeared. This scale down in brick-and-mortar can be blamed on the rise of the digital era and a new online kingdom in which Amazon reigns supreme. It’s been said that retail is dead but we’d like to respectfully disagree. Retail isn’t dead, it’s evolving. 

The online shopping experience can replicate a lot of what the in-store experience entails, but companies are transforming the experience by making it an interactive one. 

What does this mean? 

Experiential retail is when a store does more than simply put goods on display; they give shoppers the opportunity to experience a product before they purchase it. For example, Vans, a sneaker made for skaters, has a store in London (“The House of Vans”) which not only harbors a traditional setting where they sell their sneakers, but also a cafe, art gallery and, most notably, a skate ramp and street course on their bottom floor - and these amenities can be used by anybody, free of charge. 

This method of “shopping” elevates the customer experience, and makes them feel physically and emotionally invested in the product. Why do so many kids love going to Costco or BJ’s with their parents? Because of the free samples! Though these stores may not have meant this to be their intention when initially putting out these free goods, and garnering the attention of children most certainly was not their main goal, this practice may have allowed for the reaping of long-term rewards; they have connected and unknowingly built a bond with a whole new audience, who will likely grow up to become faithful customers. 

Experiential retail is a stronger and more influential descendant of this concept. Memories are more powerful than anything, so transforming your space and creating not only a product, but an experience, will definitely benefit your business and customer relations.

If you’re not yet convinced, the numbers say a LOT for this form of sales. The mindset of consumers has changed, and in-store experiences are more valuable than ever, as studies show that people are making a return to traditional shopping, with many saying they shop more in stores now than they did one year ago. Pleasure-seeking is the driving force behind this, as 49% of Millennials and Gen-Zers say they go to physical retail locations for entertainment and food (which is derivative to the success of malls). Businesses are responding to this fact, as a recent survey found that more than half of 400 surveyed retail executives said they would add in-store experiences to their marketing budget by 2020.

When you look at the retail situation from this perspective, its climate doesn’t seem so hopeless after all!

What this means for you (and for us): People can get a pair of shoes anywhere, but can they run on a track and have their speed and stride length analyzed like they can in Adidas’s Fifth Avenue location? Experiential retail is just the next step in business evolution, and if you’re not growing, investing in this new way of indirect marketing may be the way to differentiate and connect with your customers. 

If finding a new space is your first step in reinventing and implementing this upgrade from traditional retail, Vicus is here to help! Finding unique and easily adaptable spaces is one of our specialties, and we’ll make sure that you get the best property possible, so you can focus on what’s important.