Experiential CX looks set to play a vital part in the future of retail
So here we are in Spring 2022. Daffodils are popping up and bobbing their heads up to the tune of bird call and things feel a lot more positive all round, right?
And the retail sector is no different. Whilst it’s clearly been a challenging two years, a casual look through the latest sector news reveals plenty to be feeling good about:
Consumer spending surges 13.7% in February 2022
Retailers record 12th month of consecutive sales growth
Footfall rises 11% as weather improves.1
Whilst much of this sales growth and increased footfall was always going to happen post-pandemic, what else is a factor? Liz Ward, Head of Sales and Marketing at Sigma sees experiential CX as already playing a part in revitalising retail and will continue to do so into the future.
“Neither traditional retail spaces nor online stores are able to meet all the expectations of the modern, experience-led, tech-savvy consumer. While websites and shopping apps bring speed and convenience, customers cannot physically inspect products nor fully immerse themselves in a brand via a screen. What today’s consumers want is an omni-channel experience that seamlessly blends the online and physical store. The physical store, itself, meanwhile, needs to offer experiences far more attractive and of value than what is available online if it is to increase footfall.”2
The High Street is far from dead. In fact, brands like Amazon, Misguided, Netflix, TikTok and Made.com have all started to open physical stores.
What does the future of retail look like? The online retailer Bonobos has opened physical stores where it is not possible to buy any of its product range. These are effectively try-on stores, allowing customers the chance to experience online-only clothing before ordering.
But established big brand players already on the high street are also revamping the in-store experience. The Adidas mega-store has changing room interfaces that enable customers to ask for clothing in different colours and sizes.
It’s vital to give customers a fun, memorable and relaxing experience so they dwell longer and spend more. Our recent Mind The Gap customer behaviour research revealed various insightful findings. In relation to the retail sector, there is a noteworthy trend among the 18-24 year old demographic: they are much more likely to find the retail shopping experience more relaxing now than prior to the pandemic (see graph 1).
Maybe that is partly due to reduced crowds and more space, but also the great job the sector has done in getting customers back through the doors. Conversely, the 25-34 year old demographic are more likely to find post pandemic shopping less relaxing (see graph 1).
MUSIC FOR BROWSING, FOR BUYING, FOR SALES AND SPLURGES, FOR BAGS AND BASKETS AND BUY BUY MISS AMERICAN PIE.
So what is a great customer experience? For us at Startle, it is something customers tell friends about. It elevates a brand to distinction, with all sites harmonising in unison. Ultimately it improves your bottom line.
What do we mean exactly? For your own brand and business, picture interactive screens that empower customers to creatively engage with products and capture imaginations, whilst your atmosphere responsively adapts throughout the day based on your business needs minute to minute. Increase dwell, drive spend, nudge repeat custom…
Marketing Manager at Startle. I'm in charge of our marketing activity, making sure to spread the word of Startle to as many brands as possible. When I'm not working, you'll find me vinyl shopping to add to my collection or working out at the gym (usually making enemies with a punching bag).