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Experiential Retail Trends for Small Businesses

Posted on September 4, 2019

The folks who predicted that ecommerce would kill brick-and-mortar retail are eating their words.

Turns out, customers still love in-store shopping. And it makes sense: shoppers have always valued convenience, and despite promises of two-day shipping and easy returns, there’s nothing more convenient than handling or trying on a product in-store and taking it home same-day. 

That’s a competitive advantage that ecommerce sites just can’t compete with, no matter how many virtual reality tools they try.Business owner standing outside front door.Now, brick-and-mortar retailers are using technology to make the in-store experience even better. Let’s take a look at some experiential retail trends and how small businesses can use them to attract customers and earn loyalty.

The power of hands-on shopping and interactive displays 

Like children, adults like to see with their hands as much as their eyes. Touching helps us explore, understand, and engage with new objects. This sense of touch is missing from the online shopping experience.  

That’s why many retailers have found success with hands-on shopping experiences. Even if your products aren’t inherently touchable (e.g. makeup, appliances, bath products), demo or tester items and interactive digital displays and can allow your customers to “play” with your products before purchasing them. Think about how the experiences at popular stores like Sephora or Lush make them destinations rather than errands. 

When your customers are able to test out the products they’re interested in buying, they gain important information: Is it aesthetically pleasing? Does it handle as advertised? Does it offer a solution to their problems? If the answer to each of these questions is “yes,” you’re more likely to make a sale.

Hosting workshops and consultations for an extra edge

In-store workshops and one-on-one consultations allow customers to participate in guided demos and lessons about the products they’re interested in before they buy.

In addition to being fun, these workshops and consultations can help educate potential customers so they’ll be equipped with the information they need to make a solid purchasing decision when they’re ready. 

Walking customers through how one of your products is used, what it’s best for, and how it offers a solution to a problem they might have in a workshop setting can make the difference between an interested shopper and a sale. 

In addition, one-on-one consultations can help you explain — in a personalized way — your business’s products, why they’re important, and how they can improve the customer’s day-to-day life.

What’s more, better-educated customers also make better advocates for your business. When customers are happy with your business, they’re naturally going to talk about it with their friends and loved ones. 

This type of community advocacy and word-of-mouth advertising can create awareness of your brand, products, and services and increase business over time.

In-store digital displays: the best of both worlds

Many shoppers take a hybrid approach to shopping: some of it is done online and some of it is done in-store. 

The experiential retail trend of featuring digital displays and signage in-store caters to both of these approaches in order to meet your customers where they are. 

Featuring digital displays and digital signage in-store helps you greet your customers the moment they step through the door. Digital displays are eye-catching, interesting, and can be interactive as well, adding to that “hands-on experience” shoppers love so much. 

Digital displays also enhance shopping by bringing some of the digital space into the brick-and-mortar experience. They might feature advertisements, how-to videos, or friendly faces offering information about your products or services. They can also connect customers who regularly shop in-store with online deals they might miss otherwise. 

Finally, digital displays can also promote user-generated content. You may have a campaign that invites shoppers to interact with your business in a certain way: Take a video of you and a friend using product X, post it and tag us and you can win X! Or Tell us why you love product X! Post a picture, tag us, and you could be featured on our social media page! Streaming this content on an in-store display is a fun, engaging way to give your customers a feeling of inclusion with your business

Whether you’re about to open your first brick-and-mortar location or you already have an established presence, using experiential retail tactics can be an excellent way to engage customers and grow your business.

To learn about how you can make experiential retail work for you, schedule a demo.