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Sam Langley-Swain, Strategy Director

In 2015, the annual UK customer spend via m-commerce is set to reach £115 million.

The overwhelming majority of consumer spend is – and will continue to – occur in stores. By 2017, over 84% of UK retail activity will still take place in bricks-and-mortar stores.Even so, competition from online pure-plays and the ever-changing demands of consumers mean retailers need to innovate and enrich the shopping experience through experiential retailing.

Customers have outgrown the traditional retail environment. With smartphones at their fingertips, the traditional marketing messages are no longer enough. Bombarded with the same information from all angles – customers are becoming desensitised.

Experiential retailing recognises the challenges of conventional retail and provides an interactive, immersive solution. Through creative design and in-store activations, shopping is becoming more vivid. Retailers that invest in experiential design can boost dwell time, see an increase in average basket spend, and build stronger relationships with their customers.

How Big Brands are Using Experiential Design

Apple is commonly used as the benchmark for experiential retailing.

The technology retailer consistently delivers rich and immersive in-store experiences. Taking this one step further, Apple introduced the Genius Bar to offer hands-on troubleshooting where customers could interact with experts in a designated space in-store. Not only does this build brand loyalty and educate the customer, but it also boosts dwell time.

Other big names utilising experiential retailing to their advantage include:

  • The Body Shop – The health and beauty retailer delivers rich in-store experiences by allowing customers to engage in product trial. Massage tables, make-over areas, and low-to-the-ground furniture all drive store footfall and boost dwell time. See how we brought this to life in the Goodwood Vintage Festival Pop-Up.
  • Nike – The world’s biggest sports brand delivers seamless, customer-focused experiences across all retail touchpoints. Nike encourages product trial through activations that engage all the senses. A great example of this is the Mercurial Pop-Up in Dubai.
  • Build-A-Bear Workshop – The children’s toy store perfectly understands their audience and delivers a unique experience to keep them engaged. Customers collaborate with “Bear Builders” to create bespoke, toy bears.

The Body Shop Goodwood Pop Up - Green Room

How Retailers Can Drive Store Footfall

One of the things the brands mentioned above have in common is that they rise above the norm.

When presented next to their competitors, they are held in much higher regard by their customers. Experiential retailing has heightened the authority of these brands to drive footfall and brand advocacy.

Many retailers are taking inspiration from the world of e-commerce to deliver memorable and personalised in-store experiences. The benefit of this is that customers get the best of both worlds; the experience of shopping in-store, coupled with the personalised lure that comes with shopping online.

Retailers should be looking to implement concepts and activations that heighten their brand; it should be a seamless addition to a store and not something that is forced. Retail design is increasingly in the hands of the customer and should be something that adds to their experience with the brand.

It is no longer enough to take a cookie-cutter approach to retail and retail design. Brands need to be inventive, innovative and interactive. Bricks-and-mortar may well still be the most popular sales channel for UK shoppers, but they’re still demanding more.

*This blog was originally posted in 2014, it has been updated to take account of industry trends*