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This isn’t the first time you’ve heard that e-commerce is challenging traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.
It’s become evident that customers are looking for more from retailers, as they’re increasingly turning to online giants like Amazon and eBay to buy everything from food to fashion, forcing traditional retailers to take drastic measures in order to compete.
Research from Barclaycard has given brick-and-mortar stores hope by revealing that hosting in-store events and creating an immersive experience can help them surpass the competition.
After surveying 250+ senior decision makers in retail, and over 2,000 customers, researchers found that hosting events and providing entertainment in physical stores boost annual turnover by 14% on average. Additionally, experiences like these could prove particularly effective in grabbing the attention of younger consumers.
Customers between 18 and 24 are twice as likely to want stores to offer things like celebrity meet-and-greets, fitness events, and education courses. With results like these, it’s not surprising that decision makers in the retail industry plan to increase their investment in events by 113% over the next two years.
With in-store experience the biggest focus for most brick-and-mortar retailers in 2019, we’re highlighting some of the early adopters who are leading the way.
John Lewis: "National Treasures" Campaign
Earlier this year, John Lewis launched an experience-focused campaign called “National Treasures” which celebrated the British summertime.
The campaign featured 220 life-size cartoon illustration displays by artist Paul Thurlby in storefront windows. The installations were displayed in all 48 John Lewis stores across the UK. This idea encapsulated all aspects of the British summertime, from sunburn and ice cream vans to fish and chips at the seaside.
The campaign was John Lewis’s biggest and most interactive yet, which included video (above) and a program of live interactive events and workshops designed to promote John Lewis stores as "destinations of discovery," according to a company statement.
The summer campaign was aimed at consumers and included masterclasses, seminars, and Q&A sessions.
Speaking to media at the launch event, John Lewis' PR chief Peter Cross said: "Customers will be able to visit our shops and leave having learnt, laughed at, tried and tasted some of our nation's absolute favorite things."
At their flagship Oxford Street location, visitors experienced an escape from bustling city life in a themed rooftop space with a small pub. They also hosted fitness and gardening classes on the rooftop which users could book prior to visiting the store.
Cross said: “We wanted to create an integrated campaign that celebrates those iconic moments and traditions that make us who we are as a nation.”
These in-store events allowed John Lewis to attract people into a store for an experience, improving the relationship between the retailer and the customer, while exposing the attendees to many of their own products used in the immersive spaces or in classes.
Apple: "Today at Apple" Concept
For years, Apple has been leading the way in terms of imagining unique in-store concepts. Earlier this year, they announced new educational sessions in all 495 Apple stores.
The topics range from video and photography to music, coding, art, design, and many more. These interactive sessions form part of Apple’s campaign called “Today at Apple” and will be led by Apple experts and renowned members of the arts community. The structure of the sessions will range from teaching basics and how-to lessons to professional-level programs.
“At the heart of every Apple Store is the desire to educate and inspire the communities we serve,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s Senior Vice President, Retail. “‘Today at Apple’ is one of the ways we’re evolving our experience to better serve local customers and entrepreneurs. We’re creating a modern-day town square, where everyone is welcome in a space where the best of Apple comes together to connect with one another, discover a new passion, or take their skill to the next level. We think it will be a fun and enlightening experience for everyone who joins.”
Warby Parker: “The Green Room”
Warby Parker is obviously doing something right. The online-native, direct-to-consumer eyewear brand was formed in 2010 and now (as of April 2019) has 90+ stores. At a time when older retailers are closing stores, Warby Parker is just getting started.
But how is this savvy innovator brand attracting consumers to their store? They are creating unique, immersive, and "Instagrammable" in-store experiences.
The retailer's latest experience at their new LA store is one of the best yet. The store has a separate room that is a giant green screen – dubbed the “green room” – which offers a photobooth experience where customers can record their own short videos against a variety of entertaining backdrops, one of which is a big pepperoni pizza.
The room is also equipped with a variety of fun props, such as glasses with green-screen lens or a green-screen blanket. As you would expect, visitors can also "test drive" any Warby Parker glasses while in the green room. Visitors can then easily send the recorded video to themselves, and share on social.
The idea was a fun hat tip to Hollywood, which can be seen in storefront signs, clapboards, and a large Hollywood-themed mural.
This all forms part of Warby Parker’s larger strategy to drive people into the store with unique immersive experiences.
"The best brands and retailers have to give people a reason to go into a store," explains cofounder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa.
Learn more about why events drive incremental revenue and exemplary experiences. Download our free eBook, Enhancing Customer Relationships Through In-Store Events.