Experiential retail can provide a massive advantage over online retail. But, brick and mortar retailers must find ways to free up store associate time to implement these great experiences.
Walking into a store should evoke excitement. Maybe it’s the greeting from a smiling, attentive store associate. Perhaps it’s the beauty tutorial that they’re hosting in the store. Or maybe it’s live music or a guest speaker talking about his or her latest book. All of these are exciting because they provide something essential: an experience. In a hyper-competitive retail atmosphere, creating unique experiences is necessary to stand out and brand a company as forward thinking.
What is Experiential Retail?
Experiential retail is a concept that has always been practiced, but is becoming more popular than ever as brick-and-mortar retailers compete with online pure-plays. The online shopping experience is delivered by controlling what a customer sees on a screen, but experiential retail gives brick-and-mortar stores an edge. It gives them the ability to engage all of a customer’s senses as they navigate the store.
As an example:
- Visual: Soft lighting can augment the mood or ambience of a store
- Auditory: Different kinds of music can modify the atmosphere of a store, making it feel gentle, subversive, or hip
- Taste: Leaving out trays of scones or pitchers of raspberry lemonade can make customers feel like they’re valued and appreciated
The advantage that experiential retail creates is massive and retailers such as Sephora1, Estée Lauder, and Vera Bradley are already taking steps to augment their customers’ experience.
The Difficulty in Implementing Experiential Retail
It takes time to create these experiences, especially with the limited availability of store associates and managers. Efficiency is key to freeing up time for these resources, and giving them tools to get the job done is key to generating that efficiency. Workforce management solutions are one way to carve out the time needed to implement brand-building experiences. If store managers are spending ten to fifteen hours a week creating schedules for employees, that’s time they aren’t spending on engaging shoppers or training store associates on how to better serve customers. Workforce management solutions such as optimized labor scheduling solutions accomplish the weekly associate scheduling process in a fraction of the time and give that time back to the store manager. And with integration between a front-end appointment setting application and the labor scheduling solution, customers can schedule consultations at a time convenient for them as well as the associate.
A real-time store operations solution is one more way to give additional time back to managers and store associates. Too often, their time is consumed with lengthy price checking or returns processes, dealing with workforce matters such as employee sick call-outs, and fulfilling customers’ online orders to be picked up in store. Implementing a real-time store operations solution streamlines those processes, giving managers and associates more time to attend to the details of an experiential retail model. Instead of store associates running back and forth, inefficiently accomplishing tasks, they can spend time talking to customers about upcoming in-store classes, or new products that the store has launched.
The modern stance of experiential retail is a new frontier, giving brick-and-mortar stores a real advantage over online retailers. However, the difficulty of implementing a new experiential model isn’t necessarily in the design. It’s in providing store managers and associates with tools that simplify their jobs. Workforce management and real-time store operations tools that free up huge amounts of time and make it far easier to provide your customers with the perfect in-store experience.: http://www.mytotalretail.com/article/inside-sephoras-formula-creating-experiential-retail