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Retail-Tainment: Leveraging Digital To Transform The Store Experience

Credit By John Kenwood

Interactive, customer-relevant — and digitized

The need for retail-tainment has never been more compelling. A dismaying 40 percent of today’s consumers consider in-store shopping a chore. That’s according to a recent Capgemini study, “Making the Digital Connection: Why Physical Retail Stores Need a Reboot,” which surveyed 6,000 consumers in the United States, western Europe and China.

In response, consumers are exploring new retail models. The study found that 57 percent of shoppers are open to buying from technology players such as Apple and Facebook. And 71 percent would consider bypassing traditional retailers altogether.

All the right attributes

What separates retail-tainment from retail-as-usual? To be effective, your retail-tainment initiative should embody these traits:

Experiential — Retail-tainment should immerse your customers in your brand, involving sight, sound, touch and more. To that end, you need to take a holistic approach to the retail experience.

The experience will often involve community. Consumers increasingly want to belong to something they value and connect with likeminded people. Retail-tainment allows you to place your brand at the heart of community experience.

Emotional — Consumers want a greater emotional reward than pricing or convenience. After all, apparel is all about how products make customers feel. Design, color, shape, texture — all the elements integral to your products are also integral the shopping experience.

In fact, emotion is the key to customer loyalty, suggests a recent Capgemini study, “Loyalty Deciphered: How Emptions Drive Genuine Engagement,” which surveyed 9,000 consumers in the United States, western Europe and Brazil.

Authentic – Climbing an artificial rock wall makes sense in an REI store. It probably doesn’t at Brooks Brothers. Your immersive experiences have to be integral to your brand.

Sportswear brand Tommy Bahama takes a similar approach. In its Palm Springs store, the company has installed a bar — driving higher-than-expected sales in both the bar and the store. On the island of Maui, the company added a food truck to deliver the brand to the broadest audience possible.

Digitized — As with the TOMS example, so much of today’s retail-tainment is being enabled by emerging technology. Digital displays, internet-connected cameras, augmented reality, conversational commerce, predictive analytics and machine learning all offer possibilities. Many of these capabilities didn’t exist even a few years ago but are now becoming affordable at scale.

In the past we thought of technology as creating a barrier to personal interaction. Now, technology can amplify engagement. For instance, premium apparel brand Tommy Hilfiger has created a virtual shopping experience at select stores, where customers can watch a runway show in 3D, 360-degree VR.

Value-added — Finally, retail-tainment needs to deliver value to both your customers and your business. It should involve experiences that consumers desire – and that put them in the mood to buy.

With retail-tainment, the key performance indicator (KPI) is no longer sales per square foot. Instead, it’s experiences per square foot. No retailer yet knows how to convert that into dollars and cents. But if your experiences per square foot are zero, you’re falling behind.

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