Walking in Retail Wonderland

How retailers can gift their customers with an experiential in-store environment this holiday season

Brick-and-mortar stores are on the nice list this year by gifting their customers with a truly remarkable experience: a holiday-inspired experiential in-store environment. Physical retailers need to stand out to attract shoppers during the busy rush of the holiday season. According to eMarketer Retail, 2018 holiday e-commerce sales will expand at a rate of 15.3 percent. So how can traditional brick-and-mortar retailers capture these seasonal dollars? With so many shoppers turning to online purchases, brick-and-mortar stores must give customers a reason to join the in-store merriment. One of the best ways to do that is to tap into customers’ desire for added value with experiential retail.


Customers Proclaim, Are You Listening?

Today’s shoppers expect more. They’re looking for an experience that allows them to explore more of a brand’s offerings while getting knowledgeable and personalized help. The experiential retail environment is booming, and as brands strive to meet customer expectations, retailers that choose not to embrace the trend will find themselves left out in the cold — especially during the winter shopping season.

A Beautiful Sight

For retailers hopping on the experiential retail train, an eye-catching window display with bold visual graphics might do the trick. Shoppers who decide to brave the mall instead of making purchases online will rush through the crowd clutching their names list and hunting out the perfect gifts for their family and friends. They will be overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of busy malls, and will need an extra push in the right direction. An attractive and attention-grabbing window display beckoning them to see more could help draw shoppers into the store and indicates a likelihood of completing their search within.

Once inside, using a “shop-in-shop” display with a holiday twist could capture their valuable time, inviting them to explore their options and leading shoppers to find the holy grail: the perfect gift. Setting aside in-store square footage for a customized section where shoppers can interact with and learn about potential gift options elevates the shopping experience and could provide the sales boost retailers seek. When holiday shoppers can make informed decisions and have access to staff to help answer their questions in one festive stop, the probability of conversion increases, along with minimizing returns by creating satisfied customers.

Additionally, retailers might consider an entire separate shopping space for the holidays. Pop-up shops are an extremely valuable way to connect with consumers and draw shoppers to a specific location. The holidays offer the ideal opportunity to drive business to these physical store locations. Pop-up shops take experiential retail to the next level, providing a distinct area for consumers to learn more about products and for retailers to highlight specific offerings. Pop-ups also allow for flexibility and movement, giving retailers a low-cost, high-impact way to drive sales during the holidays. Shoppers will delight at a unique and customized shopping experience while turning out to participate in something special and exclusive for the season.

They’re Happy Tonight

Experiential retail must be top-of-mind this holiday season. With the magic and madness of the holiday shopping rush, there’s a lot of competition for consumers’ attention. Retailers that embrace the season with festive window displays, helpful shop-in-shop stations, and distinctive pop-up opportunities will certainly come out on top. Customers want to be able to experience something new that embraces the joy of the season while also providing them an opportunity to learn more about the brands they love and interact on a new level. Experiential retail is the gift customers are seeking during the holidays. The brands that deliver this want will sleigh the season.

Todd Bernstein is the vice president of business development at CS Hudson, a project and program management firm specializing in turnkey services and purpose-built facility solutions that help clients with dispersed portfolios deliver the consistent, high-quality brand experiences customers expect.

Taylor Martin