An evolution of consumer habits means brands need to ensure they lead the way in how customers’ experience their products and services.
- The rise of the ‘retailtainment’ movement for brands
- The benefits of brands offering immersive experiences including VR experiences to drive footfall in a troubling retail environment
- How concept stores and immersive experiences will strengthen rather than weaken brand/retailer relationships
- The importance of intelligent guided selling for the success of trip motivations and synergistic selling strategies
TRIP MOTIVATIONS AND SYNERGISTIC BENEFITS
As online shopping becomes an increasingly dominant force in the retail world, many shopping centres are introducing ‘trip motivations’ to their environments – adding leisure activities and entertainment – such as crazy golf and escape rooms – in a bid to encourage consumer spending by driving footfall and providing them with a richer, all-round experience.
Brands such as Topshop – who put on a summer-long activation called Splash! that cleverly combined VR experiences, stunts and pop-ups to engage, surprise and delight customers, Samsung, whose Canada store features a kitchen with live demo’s that offer customers sampling taste tests and Nike’s New York store – possibly the most outstanding example with their ‘Nike Basketball trial zone –half a court with a 23-foot ceiling in which customers are invited to trial and test the basketball shoes on the court all bridge the gap between digital and physical platforms and are all early adopters of the ‘retailtainment’ movement.
Synergistic benefits for retailers from some forms of adjoining leisure activity may be negligible, but there is no denying that in a quest for greater transparency consumers are increasingly going straight to the source for the products and services they consume and this growing trend for leisure activities to challenge the position of traditional retailers should ultimately urge brands to play more of a direct part in engaging with customers and driving long-term loyalty .
The ease and convenience of online shopping has evident appeal to the modern, always-on consumer, a consumer who is much different to whom they were ten or fifteen years. A trip to a shopping centre is not as alluring as it once was for these digital-savvy shoppers, who will have little incentive to leave their homes if they can find everything they need online. However, the popularity of leisure activities and a generally more entertaining experience represents an opportunity for brands to enter this fold, and reduce their reliance on third-party retailers in promoting their brand image.
Marketing academics and practitioners have acknowledged that consumers look for brands that provide them with unique and memorable experiences. Remaining competitive is about doing that something extra to ensure a positive, noteworthy customer experience, and this is where brands can really take charge of their own destiny.
One of the ways brands can achieve this is by engaging in concerted efforts to open their own stores. In doing so, they can bring themselves closer to their customers by focusing on in-store experiences on a particular flagship product or range that resonates strongly with consumer demand. Visitors to a store could, for example, receive in-depth product demonstrations, specialist advice and needs-based product recommendations that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. This opportunity allows brands to bring the best of digital, in-store – essentially streamlining the ‘best of’ experience across all channels.
VR AND AR FOR A MORE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE
The use of technologies such as VR and AR to create a more immersive experience will also ensure a prospective customer has a memorable time trying out products. Introducing an element of theatre, which encourages footfall and then gets people talking about the brand is key.
This certainly doesn’t mark the end for relationships between brands and retailers, but should instead be seen to help to strengthen those ties, as well as a brand’s overall strategy.
There are few brands that don’t rely on strong relationships with retailers in order to sell products and promote their brand message, and these connections will remain an integral part of the retail ecosystem. Opening their own concept stores will enable brands to complement this existing situation, by tapping into a clear appetite amongst consumers for some kind of leisure activity or novel experience when they visit a shopping centre.
WHY INTELLIGENT GUIDED SELLING IS INTEGRAL TO BRAND EXPERIENCE SUCCESS
To make such initiatives a success, and to ensure brand messaging and key themes are communicated consistently, brands need to adopt innovative technologies designed to create an informative customer experience, such as intelligent guided selling (IGS). IGS is instrumental to ensure a brand is represented in a clear, consistent manner across all sales channels, whether this is in-store or online. The technology works by empowering sales associates to efficiently guide customers to the product that is best aligned to their personal needs, thereby enhancing the element of theatre that the brand aims to provide. Marketing efforts have this goal of consistency of messaging very much in mind, so having a helping hand in standardising an exceptional brand experience is crucial.
Retailers are clearly facing a catalogue of challenges when it comes to persuading customers to visit stores, but brands themselves need to take responsibility and become key players in helping the market adapt to changes in consumer behaviour. By seizing the ‘leisure shopping’ concept and combining fresh approaches to fostering customer loyalty with technology, brands can ensure that their legacies are secure for the years to come.
Conversity is helping some of the worlds leading brands with improving customer experience through intelligent guided selling – get in contact to find our how we can help.
The Conversity Team