Is experiential retail overhyped and misunderstood?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Doug Garnett’s blog.
In New York City, an “experiential” restaurant enables customers to catch trout or salmon in a countertop “river” then have it prepared for dinner. The food had better be superb to support the extraordinary prices needed to maintain catchable, edible live fish.
Still, the question of experience in the store is critical because a group of “experiencer” consultants recommend turning stores into bad amusement parks.
In advertising, agencies work hard to create ads which might win Academy Awards, but don’t say anything important for the consumers who care about the product.
Retail experience suffers a similar problem. Adding a cafe at Tiffany’s to have “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is showered with adulation by experiencers. It’s a nice, small PR idea, but nothing new.
Similar hype claims Apple’s stores are “gathering places.” This may be a warning sign of impending Apple problems. And praise arrives for Samsung’s Manhattan store, “which isn’t a retailer at all.” (Where do I begin?).
Retailers should pay attention to important truths about experience and retail:
- Experience has always been very important: When retailers fail, the experience of shopping in their store generally no longer delivers the value shoppers expect or need.
- Retail’s purpose is to connect consumers to products: Products must be the focal point. Experiencer ideas build from the outside in – and leave out product as a result.
- Experience as an element cannot be separated from the entire store mix: The overall experience of shopping at your store includes everything from curation of product to pricing, customer service and cleanliness. This determines your brand no matter what your advertising says.
Strong stores already deliver excellent experience. When we visit an REI store we find products which help us anticipate or remember our experiences outdoors (the rock wall reminds us of our joy being outside).
Only when the right products are stocked in a store people want to visit with prices that fit expectations and customer service that wraps it all up can retailers thrive. So, can we please leave the extreme experience talk where it belongs — with Six Flags, Disney and Universal Studios?
- Experiential Retail Is Overhyped & Misunderstood:The Good – And Bad – Of Rei, Barnes & Noble, Ross, Orvis, Ace, And Catching Your Dinner – Protonik
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that the focus on delivering experiential retail often come at the expense of product and the broader shopping experience? What are some key signals that a store has overdone its experiential slant?