07 September 2015
Every town everywhere has shops and usually there will be many offering more or less the same thing, at different price points. At any given point it is also probable that there will be fewer shoppers than there are shops vying for their business, which is where differentiation comes in.
Retailers are fond of saying that they have to ‘differentiate’ in order to guarantee the requisite level of footfall through their doors and to generate the profits needed to remain in the game. And for many, if not all, the current buzzword in order to ensure that a retail environment is differentiated is ‘experience’.
The problem is that experience needs definition as far as retailers and shoppers are concerned and the two do not always find common ground. How therefore to put experience at the heart of the store and what needs to be done in order for this to be effected.
The current buzzword in order to ensure that a retail environment is differentiated is ‘experience’
For one answer, a trip to London department store Selfridges is instructive. Recently it has been running a storewide promotion called “Work It”, which takes different forms as a journey is made around this multi-level space. For shoppers this can mean anything from free beauty makeovers – Selfridges has got all of its concessions and brands on-board, to more esoteric offerings such as a 3d scanner and printer that turns customers into lollipops. For anybody walking into the store, a range of experiences is on offer and there is probably something for almost anybody.
That said, this is just one version of what ‘experience’ might mean. The other side of the coin is the store environment itself. This is where experience at a macro level can be created by retailers and there are a number of elements that should be given careful consideration. At its most basic, a store designer will look at lighting, flooring and then the fit-out that sits between these two. Changes of pace and mood can be injected by altering both lighting and retail flooring as a progress is made through a retail space and this in itself can be sufficient to constitute an experience. Done properly it really can create difference and something that shoppers may not have encountered.
Changes of pace and mood can be injected by altering both lighting and flooring and this can be sufficient to constitute an experience
Take either of these approaches and the chances are good that an experience will be the outcome, although both eventbased and store-design focused experiences will rely upon change, at intervals for this to be maintained. Does this need to be expensive? Not necessarily. Store environments can be changed by creating focal points that are altered sporadically - a change of flooring or mid-shop equipment needn’t mean a total overhaul in order for shoppers to perceive difference.
The real point about experience is that it should stay with shoppers after they have left the store with a purchase in hand – this is what will generate continued turnover and ensure retail survival at times when others may be heading for the offices of the receiver.
The real point about experience is that it should stay with shoppers after they have left
Lay-out and signage, pace, mood and the path to purchase are all equally important to ensure an on-going conversation with your customer.
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