Thanks for Visiting: How Experiential Retail Is the Next Step In Customer Acquisition and Retention

Brick-and-mortar stores are constantly looking to acquire new customers and retain existing ones, but the competition is fierce — not only between each other but also with online retail options. Today’s customers expect more. It’s not enough to be able to pick up a product — shoppers are looking for an experience. Experiential retail allows shoppers to explore more of a brand’s offerings while getting a personalized experience.

More than just a friendly and knowledgeable sales associate, experiential shopping goes further. It’s interactive and implores the consumer to stay in the store and be entertained through retail experiences. Also called “retailtainment,” the offerings vary based on the products and target market. It might be as simple as a customized digital display to show off a new outfit without having to try it on, a VR experience to try a product in action, or it could be more interactive by offering special customer engagement events that include celebrities, sports stars or brand ambassadors. Whatever it may be, the offering needs to be one that entices the customer and motivates them to visit the retailer’s physical location.


One of the biggest names in retail has embraced the experiential retail model to give its customers a oneof-a-kind shopping experience. As described by CNBC, Macy’s is expanding on the idea of traditional popups and is taking on a new marketplace concept called “The Market @ Macy’s.” Macy’s has built sections on its ground floor to promote and sell products by a variety of brands and companies. This new concept is aimed at giving Macy’s customers more variety to their shopping, and it takes the heavy lifting from the retailers.

Saks has launched “the Wellery,” a section of its second floor that is dedicated to wellness classes and services. Customers are growing increasingly interested in healthy lifestyles and spending money for these experiences, so the high-end department store is focused on providing services to its customers that resonate with their daily interests. To take customer experience one step further, Amazon unveiled its first brick-and-mortar convenience store, Amazon Go. The store of the future will add even more ease to the convenience store model with unique technology that allows a seamless shopping and checkout experience.


Even though the trend is still new, experiential retail must already be evolving. Agile and flexible store formats will be the next step. This could mean offering new and exclusive products from a pop-up store to test the market and gain customer feedback without having to make a long-term investment. Or, retailers may consider utilizing modular designs to make it easier to adapt their stores to the fast changes in consumer trends as well as the demands of new product categories. Modular designs would make it easy to rearrange, replace and reimagine retail displays, providing the desired refresh while ultimately saving time and money. This would enable retailers to frequently reinvent the in-store experience, giving customers a reason to come back time and again.

Taylor Martin