Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Retailing an Experience

In an article found here IDEO turns it's focus on retail and the future of the physical store. So much talk these days is about how brick and mortar stores are disappearing and becoming obsolete with the rising of internet purchases and consumer shopping habits. As this article suggests in is probably very premature to assume that that consumers are completely over physical stores and transactions. People like to connect with people and from a branding stand point and engagement with consumers the store still leads the way, and probably won't be replaced anytime soon with a digital alternative. So what things should be considerations for the stores of the future? This the article goes on the explain, is where a store needs to evolve to the new needs and expectations of consumers.

Considerations include.

Design stores that are more than places to buy stuff.
People still visit stores, people still go out at weekends and shop around, even if they ultimately do not buy from the store they are wandering and touching real products. Stores can use this to their advantage, making casual browsing, enjoyable, the goal should be brand experience.
Employ brand enthusiasts
Today more than ever, people share their opinions about things they buy, people love reviews and ratings. Stores should be hiring brand enthusiasts that are like evangelists to the products. These are people that care about the products they sell and want others to join their joy in ownership.
Target existing users of your product
People that are already consumers of your brand, have most likely bought into the dream and vision. Building in-store experiences that focus on education, trials and membership to these users of your product are going to build longer term relationships, and advocates. It's much more about open relationships than before.
Make shops into R&D labs
If one thing differentiates a physical store from a digital store it's the physical face-time with the consumers. This is an opportunity to speak directly with people and gauge honest feedback on new initiatives or products. This allows the physical space to become a feedback loop directly with customers.

Nice article and some interesting value adds to physical stores of the future. The internet has certainly empowered the consumer, but really people still want those physical interactions and feelings of belonging that brands promote, these ideas are definitely inline with those thoughts. These future stores could add huge brand value and loyalty, and I think Apple stores already show the way and how well it works.

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