Despite numerous claims that brick and mortar retail is dead, research is showing that success lies in exceptional in-store experiences. And while driving sales is vital, retailers and brands must also give customers a compelling reason to visit their stores. Jack Morton said it best, “Retailers need to focus less on selling us something, and more on making us feel something. Storefronts need to transform from a place to buy…to a place to be.”
These savvy forward-thinking retail brands are redefining the in-store experience:
If you live in New York City and haven’t been to Showfields – run, don’t walk. This retail store is a MUST SEE. After reading an article in Forbes, we were gung-ho on visiting Showfields first-ever storefront. Coming from a millennial that’s not easily impressed by store experiences, Showfields blew me away. If you aren’t familiar, the retailer offers customers a fresh perspective on in-store experiences by curating multiple “mini storefronts” which feature up and coming direct-to-consumer brands. Currently, Showfields has built a notable list of brands including IT’S BY U, CityRow, Function Of, Nuria, Gravity Blankets, Boll & Branch, N5 & Sunny, Quip and Frank Body. While Phase 1 of the store gallery consists of a single floor, Phase 2 is planned to roll out in March and will include three additional floors of interactive branded experiences. According to Co-Founder Katie Hunt, the second floor will feature a “home” theme, while the third will focus on “fashion and design” and the fourth floor will boast a café and event space. After our visit, we walked away feeling inspired. Not only was every inch of the store Instagrammable but each and every brand offered a unique experience that encouraged customer interaction and education.
Canada Goose’s “Cold Room” is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s also genius. This experiential space is located in five of the brand’s eleven showrooms. The room’s temperature is set to -27 degrees Fahrenheit and it is surrounded by ice sculptures. Customers have the opportunity to try on jackets of their liking and really put the garments to the test. Given the long lines, this type of in-store experience is a great example of interactive experiences driving foot traffic and serving a practical purpose during the shopper journey.
Nike’s new NYC Flagship
Chances are you’ve seen an article or two about Nike’s new NYC Flagship experience. Even after the hype, we were so impressed during our visit. To sum things up, the six-story flagship is a shopper’s dream come true. What we found most interesting was the Nike Speed Shop – an entire floor of shopping based on localization. Meaning, the retailer re-stocks product based on what its customers’ needs are. Additionally, NikePlus members have the ability to reserve items via phone and have them held at an in-store digital locker. While many retailers are offering buy or reserve online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), customers often have to wait in a long line to pick up the product. With a locker, the community has the freedom to pick up whenever is convenient for them. Furthermore, the store also offers a Sneaker Lab, a Nike Expert Studio (members can book one-on-one in-store appointments on the Nike app) and The Arena’s maker’s space for product customization. Most notably, our favorite experience was utilizing the Nike app in-store. With its Shop the Look feature, customers have the ability to scan a code on a mannequin, browse each and every item the mannequin is wearing and check to see if specific sizes are available in-store. If available, the customer can request an associate to send the items directly to their fitting room. Once finished, we were able to skip the line, use the instant checkout station and be on our way.
If Urban Outfitters and Toys "R" Us had a baby, Camp would be the outcome. Camp, a new toy store in New York City is not only selling toys and gadgets for little ones but also has interactive areas and workshops. Founded by BuzzFeed, the experiential store sells anything from jackets and backpacks to a taco truck and Harry Potter cooking kit. But what makes the different from any other toy store is their Base Camp – a summer-camp experience that changes every 8-12 weeks. Brands have the opportunity to sponsor rotating camp themes and closely interact with their target demographic – kids. And while we weren’t shopping for kids’ toys, the Milk for Camp Bar was awfully tempting (we’re pretty sure there’s no age limit for their exclusive s’mores sundae).
If you’re a tech product nerd like us, you will definitely geek out over b8ta’s store experience. The company’s motto is “retail designed for discovery” and it couldn’t be truer. Mostly recently, we visited b8ta’s Herald Square location, where we spent a good 45 minutes testing out each and every tech gadget they had to offer. The high-tech, high-touch experience was unlike any other showroom we’ve been to – as it was very much focused on discovery and engagement rather than a hard sell. Each and every item is available for you to touch and feel and has its very own iPad with video instructions, specs and detailed information. Our favorite products were Petcube, depict, Winbot and SNOO.
With new store concepts evolving on the daily, the key for retailers and brands will be experience retail. Today’s generation of shoppers are craving brand loyalty and a place to belong - brick and mortar is here to stay.