Are Experiential Stores The Future of Retail Franchises?

Sneha Santra
Sneha Santra Aug 19 2019 - 5 min read
Are Experiential Stores The Future of Retail Franchises?
77% of retailers consider social or experiential environments for customers an important or critical and strategic part of their in-store appeal

There was a time when shopping malls were rare and used to be jam-packed with consumers all year round. Retail stores didn’t have to put much effort into getting traction. However, given today’s scenario where a customer is spoilt for choice on their shopping options right from the comfort of their home to destinations, retailers now have to fight tooth and nail to attract customers.

Moreover, with the recent inundation of technology, customers are more inclined towards online shopping. Be it e-commerce or food, customers prefer to get things delivered at their doorsteps.

Thus, it is essential on the part of retail franchisors to motivate them to step out of their home and shop in-store. Improving customers’ in-store customer experience will do the trick, so retail franchises are now offering experiential shopping. According to a report, 77% of retailers consider social or experiential environments for customers an important or critical and strategic part of their in-store appeal.

Experiential stores provide an alternative shopping experience by shifting from transactional exchanges to more experiential and interactive experiences by providing customers with the touch-and-feel experience of products.

Making the Store Kid-friendly

One of the most critical problems that parents face while shopping, is handling their kids. Most children become impatient while going out for shopping. If the franchised outlet is kid-friendly and offers toys or play-area for them to have fun, the parents automatically feel relaxed and enjoy their shopping experience resulting in the potential increase in sales conversions. Moreover, if the staff is friendly towards the kids, it develops a positive feeling towards the brand.

Keeping this in mind, various brands such as More Megastore, Ikea etc have a play area for children, offering a relaxing and enjoyable shopping experience for both the parents and their Kids.

Embracing Technology

Even if the customers are shopping in the physical store, they don’t ditch technology. Customers tend to search all about the product before coming to the decision of buying it. As per reports, 85% of customers research about a brand on the internet before making the purchase. Thus, franchisors are now embracing technology into their outlets to increase brand experience. From 3D, AR and VR, to instinctive tech-enabled solutions, franchises are leveraging it all to make shopping at stores experiential.

For instance, fashion retailer brand, Lifestyle, has devised a fitting room assistance programme that allows for technology-assisted size retrieval, whereby store assistants get alerted on the style and size needed by customers for trial. 

International brands like GAP have infused augmented reality (AR) into stores to showcase before customers how apparel looks when worn. Famous Sportswear brand, Nike, has a basketball trial zone surrounded by high definition screens at its NYC store where consumers can try on basketball shoes and play the game with in-store athletes to get the real feel of the shoes. 

Burberry has dubbed Burberry World Live in its store. The store includes the world's tallest retail screen, 550 hidden speakers, screens which turn into mirrors when needed and a hydraulic stage for performances. It also features RFID microchips in some items of clothing which when worn, transform mirrors into screens showing how the clothes look on a catwalk. Thus, enhancing customer experience with the use of digital products also generates huge revenue.

Shop and Dine

Well, who doesn’t love a sumptuous meal after shopping? Brands seem to have taken this very seriously and are introducing small restaurants or cafes inside their stores. Customers love this concept of shop & dine, making it a complete shopping experience for them.

IKEA, despite being a furniture brand, has a 1000-seater cafeteria, which has 50% Swedish and 50% Indian local delicacies.  The purpose is to engage the customers, attract them and retain them in larger numbers.

One of India’s largest retail brands, FabIndia, has been focusing on launching experience centres instead of old-school retail stores. Their experience centres, apart from apparels, also have a FabCafé, an Indian inspired bistro that focuses on bringing a nutritious and contemporary menu highlighting India’s diverse cuisines with an array of dishes that represent various regional cuisines made with seasonal ingredients.

The main motive is to provide a highly engaging experience that builds a lasting relationship with customers.

Offers an Escapist Experience

Customers take time out from their hectic schedule to indulge themselves into the experience where they can forget about the stresses of daily life. This is known as the escapist experience. Consumers seek pleasant and memorable environment while shopping. Pleasant interiors & music, merchandising displays, irresistible offers and other details can help a customer relax and enjoy.

Puneet Gulati, CEO, Barista, said, “We believe that the customers who come to us expect more than just plain coffee. So, the whole idea is to provide a good holistic experience around a coffee shop. And that can only be possible by, where we bring experts from various walks of life in the art, culture and creativity domain and create a rich experience for our customers.”

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