The Experiential Store Trend
...and how you can learn from it.
Business is ever-changing. As entrepreneurs, we are always thinking up new ideas; constantly innovating and challenging ourselves. Our taste, our needs and our interests grow along side us as individuals as well as with our surroundings as they progress and grow. Some say owning a business is easier than ever but simultaneously it's actually becoming harder than ever. It seems like everyone is starting their own business these days with new industries continuing to pop up that didn't exist just ten years ago. If someone told you back in 2001 that you could get paid $10 000 by posting a photo of your food for strangers to look at, you might have thought they were insane. It’s a new world for business, both digitally and physically, with bricks and mortar. It’s easy to say that “everything is done using the internet now” but that's not completely true. The younger generation of millennial's have started a new movement of attending events IRL (in real life). How can you post something if you never experienced it? Stores are starting to understand that the “experiential store” is more important than ever. As consumers, choosing how we spend our money gives us power but we want to make sure our money is being spent where it counts, and right now, that's on experiences.
Now you're probably asking, what on earth is an experiential store? It's never really existed before. It use to be that a retail store picked a product, then they sold said product. You wanted jeans? Go to the jean store, try some on, pay for it, go home and carry on with your life. But things are changing. Social media not only plays a huge part in our personal lives now, but it's also important for businesses to make sure they have a strong social media presence. Giving customers something to share on their socials will help move your business forward. Giving your customer something to “wow” them when they walk into your store is really what's key in creating an experiential store. The product has become secondary to the overall experience.
If you've heard of Glossier, then you might have heard about their store in New York. This beauty brand is known for capturing millennial's with their product (think of their signature brand colour: millennial pink) but their new experiential store in NY is like no other. You enter by walking up a staircase that encompasses you like a beautiful pink hug, to arrive at the top, seeing a series of employees wearing soft pink mechanic jumpsuits. The corrugated table tops perfectly curated with product, all of which are so crowded, you can’t get in without bumping shoulders with someone. If you want to see how one of their products work, they have a full size bathroom available for you to try, wash and try again. The back room is a series of mirrors with over sized Boy Brow sculptures which of course, is the perfect spot to stop and take a photo (after all, that’s the point isn’t it?). While all of this is happening, the employees in their pink mechanic suits are standing by waiting for you to summon them over to make your purchase. Once you have made your selection and pay using their mobile device (no cash desk here), you walk over to a large opening within the beautifully coloured walls and down floats your product as if out of nowhere. Impressed? Ya, us too.
By: Kayla Wan
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Stores like these are starting to become the new normal. Even the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs doubles as a trendy co-working and coffee shop. Adding that extra level of value into the overall experience is what people are looking for. They want to feel like they're not only excited about their new purchase but excited about their experience at that store.
This is a somewhat easy change to make when you are a company made up of 2000 people and worth millions and millions of dollars, but how do you apply this to a small business? Chances are it’s going to be hard to add in an extra 200k to your loan so you can put in an inside zip line (can you ever afford the permits?) Making sure you don’t go above your means is key but try adding something of value to your business that will bump up your customer's experience. Shelmerdines, just outside of Winnipeg, has really embraced the experiential trend. Not only do they sell beautiful and luscious plants but they hold events around the holidays and season changes to add to the experience. Do you remember seeing the light up “JOY” sign from Christmas 2018 flooding your instagram feed? People flocked to this local greenhouse to enjoy the festive decor, activities and probably ended up purchasing an item or two - well done, Shelmerdines!
Making sure you find something that compliments your business is important. If you sell mountain equipment, try adding a rock climbing wall for people to try out your product. If you're in the coffee industry, is there a place for customers to sit and take amazing photos of your latte art? Would adding an art gallery to your cafe fit the bill? It needs to be something people can see value in.
While it may seem hard to mix and match your business with this new direction, make sure the experience you're going to offer is complimentary to your business. You want your customer's time spent in your store to delight their senses and have them coming back for more.