Originally published on AW360.
In-store shopping is here to stay. As long as shoppers crave immediacy and have a need to see, touch and try on items, stores will remain a necessary shopping channel. But to keep up with today’s consumers, retail must evolve. Shoppers expect in-store experiences that are personalized and innovative, with education, entertainment and social media components as value adds. Here is a look at three NYC stores and their approaches to experiential retail.
The Amazon 4-Star Store (SOHO – 72 Spring St)
Shoppers will love this curated collection of Amazon’s 4-star rated products. The store resembles a bookstore, with inventory housed on dark in-wall shelving or on labeled floor displays. Additional in-stock inventory is stowed underneath display tables, adding a warehouse feel to the experience. The premise of the 4-star store lends itself to an abundance of merchandising tactics such as “most wished for” and “top selling”. Display products let you try or inspect the merchandise. True to the Amazon brand, membership has its privileges as prime members are rewarded with special pricing. It’s a cashless environment that only accepts payment via credit cards or through the Amazon app. On your way out, don’t forget to rate your experience (this is Amazon after all).
Experiential Takeaway: It’s Amazon, so the name alone is a huge draw, but how this digital native has effectively taken attributes from ecommerce, particularly merchandising and ratings, and integrated them into the in-store experience is impressive.
Glossier (SOHO – 123 Lafayette St)
Upon arriving, the white frosted glass doors are all that separate you from the beautiful world that is Glossier. Once inside, the experience hits your senses, as the walls, painted in the brand’s go-to hue of “millennial pink,” are soothing and the fresh floral scent of the lit candles permeates each floor. The first floor has a pick-up window for online orders and upstairs, the energy intensifies as shopper’s sample products. Associates place orders on iPads (the store is cashless) to be collected about five minutes later at the in-store pickup window, where customers’ orders descend via a pulley-like mechanism. While you wait for your name to be called, take advantage of the totally Instagrammable space including a “boy brow” room, filled with jumbo fixtures of the signature product for customers to pose with and post to their social feeds.
Experiential Takeaway: Glossier delivers an experience that is uniquely social yet personalized all within a fun, relaxing and beautiful space.
Nike (Midtown – 650 5th Ave)
Diehard Nike fans are in for a treat. The Nike House of Innovation feels more like a museum than a place to buy Nike gear. Take heed of the tip written on the window as you enter – “Download the Nike app: your ultimate shopping companion.” Trust us; this will come in handy as you shop, as many in-store features are exclusive to the app and by extension, exclusive to members of the NikePlus program. The store pays homage to current pro athletes like LeBron James and Odell Beckham Jr. as well as the brand’s inherent legacy of innovation. The customization studio allows shoppers to personalize their shoes or apparel onsite. The experience is a mix of self service and one-on-one consultative shopping, due largely to the aforementioned app. Shoppers can use the app to request further styles and sizes during try-on or shop entire pre-styled looks displayed on the selling floor. The most notable app feature was the ability to checkout instantly without the need of an associate via “Nike instant checkout” kiosks. Digital signage in the “speed shop” provides more detailed product information including recommended usage and what the item looks like on a model (think online shopping). Pick-up lockers for orders reserved online and other services (i.e. shop with an expert, alterations, courier service to anywhere in the city, etc.) round out the wide array of offerings at this must-see location.
Experiential Takeaway: The Nike Brand in all its glory, with successful app integration to provide a perfectly tailored and “speedy” next level shopping experience.
Retailers can make a choice to provide personalized in-store services, incorporate design features worthy of countless likes on social media and/or enhance stores with innovative technology, all to meet shoppers’ demands. It is vital that the underlying experience these stores convey be in line with the retailer’s brand identity and ultimately provide a positive, fluid shopping experience across all channels. With the right activations, retail can be a successful way to experience a brand, making the constant “retail apocalypse” and “death of retail” warnings, greatly exaggerated.
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