Shopping habits have altered significantly over the last decade, and the retail climate has been experiencing a shift in the way consumers are choosing to shop. With convenience at the forefront of shoppers’ minds, traditional bricks-and-mortar stores have more pressure than ever to improve the customer’s experience and meet new demands of consumers, claims Retail Store’s Ian Tomlinson …

Changes in retailing in recent years has meant that modern shoppers demand more – gone are the days where shopping consisted of entering a brick and mortar store and choosing from the limited in-store products. Consumers today are met with a choice, variety and immediate availability from e-commerce and Click and Collect. 

With what one can argue is now too much choice, the demand in in-store shopping has declined. Consumers want more – something unique, a discovery like no other before, a place that offers an elusive space to make purchasing more about buying into an experience that a brand has to offer over just another transaction.

To stand out from the crowd, retailers are embracing the omni-channel experience, creating pop-up stores and engaging in ‘retailtainment’ to combat the Instagram-worthy retailers that are leading the future in consumer purchasing. 

Opting for more of a futuristic experience over old retailing methods, retailers are seeking to make their in-store experience more immersive, interactive and personalised. Constructing an unforgettable experience may just encourage online shoppers to step away from the comfort of their home and experience something new.

The fusion of retail and entertainment is a concept that has captivated the retail industry. Retailtainment is fast becoming the marketing method of choice to entice customers back into brick and mortar stores. The idea has led to retailers moving away from what was once considered the norm by creating consumer experiences that are out of the ordinary. 

Adding elements into traditional shopping experiences with sound, emotion, activity and ambience excites consumers to purchase products. This engagement encourages shoppers to linger longer and share their experiences with friends through word of mouth and on social media platforms like Facebook. Consequently, this creates the buzz and conversation amongst consumers that retailers crave. 

Virtual reality is at the forefront of incorporating a digital presence into brick and mortar stores. Concept catwalks and runways in store are popular amongst fashion retailers. Stores across China are taking virtual reality to the next level by introducing the concept of entering a store in Asia but being virtually transported into New York to browse and purchase items. 

Others are investing in the stores ambience by introducing popular lifestyle activities such as quirky coffee stalls as seen by River Island, or giving tech geeks lessons at Apple stores over YouTube tutorials. Across the pond, superstore Walmart is interacting with its customers and delivering on promotional events like meeting their favourite bull riders as a way of boosting targeted customer traffic. 

Using entertainment and lifestyle activities integrated with digital experiences, open creative spaces, coffee shop boutiques and even cinema-themed promotions are unmistakably making the in-store shopping experience more interesting, thrilling and enjoyable for the consumer. 

Creating an individual audio and visual consumer experience is however more than just providing something different and fun. The psychology of creating the right ambient environment is meticulous. From the music, lighting and colour to smells, it is one that has been invested and well-studied and has been recognised as an influencer in consumer behaviour and spending. 

Marketing ploys, sophisticated concepts and well thought-out strategies can work subtly, cleverly or even wildly, but the true significance of retailtainment is whether it can lead the way in pulling consumers away from online shopping and back into brick and mortar. 

Retailers who combine the elements of retail and entertainment together are beginning to prove its intangibility as a method to entice consumers back. This may demonstrate retailtainment to be the powerful tool that promises to achieve customer retention in the future. 

The in-store retail industry may have just found its solution to its ever-falling sales and be able to restore the magic by offering more than just a standard shopping experience, breathing a sense of new life into the retail world.

Ian Tomlinson is a Cloud EPoS innovator at RetailStore, the one platform, one solution cloud retail management system specifically designed for today’s complex and challenging multi-channel retail world.