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Engaging Consumers with Retailtainment

Can you measure a retail experience?

Square footage is a precious commodity in retail, with prime locations such as Oxford Street known to fetch as much as £700 per square foot. Understandably, retailers often come under pressure to deliver ‘bang for buck’ in every inch of space and create a stimulating environment that encourages shoppers to enter the store, make a purchase and crucially, return again.

Similarly, retailers are all too aware of the importance in keeping the customer in the store for longer. The growth of click-and-collect is a prime example of brands encouraging the e-customer to enter the brick and mortar environment. Once in the store, the retailer has the opportunity to offer them something unique, and ultimately increase the likelihood that they will make a purchase or increase their basket size. This could be an experience that reinforces the brand’s image, or handing across a voucher for them to spend in-store when they are picking up their click-and-collect purchase for example.

Historically, retailers have often adopted a ‘mass product’ approach - packing the rails with products in every possible size, colour or style in the hope that customers will be able to find what they’re looking for without having to shop elsewhere.

Filling the shop floor with as much stock as possible makes sense in theory and yet it’s important that retailers also make time – and space – to inspire shoppers if they are to enhance the overall shopping experience. Today’s brands are increasingly seeing the benefit in making room for an area that is product free. Dubbed the ‘retailtainment’ trend, this space is designed to do more than just sell, but to inspire, entertain and engage.

Many have looked upon the retailtainment trend as a marketing gimmick – and with return on investment as important as ever, understanding which technologies to invest in can be a difficult balance.

The concept of designating a space or feature to inspiring customers can be replicated by any retailer. Of course, retailtainment doesn’t always have to consist of a permanent, fixed feature. Equally, in-store events can be a great way to encourage people to spend more time there. Activewear retailer, Sweaty Betty runs a series of free-to-attend in-store classes including yoga, Pilates and circuits, as well as its own running club. When in the store, attendees are more likely to browse stock, purchasing a water bottle or yoga mat. Dubbed the ‘Get Fit 4 Free’ campaign, this inspirational theme transfers to the website too, making the brand a good case study of how retailtainment can work in an omnichannel capacity - all the classes are available to book online with a ‘get the look’ section pointing shoppers to key pieces. All the workout videos are also available to watch online and complete from the comfort of your own home – inspiring shoppers beyond the store.

Technology is also helping to fuel the retailtainment trend, enabling retailers to evaluate the benefits of giving up product space in favour of something more creative. For example, store managers are able to put out a more selective range of stock, safe in the knowledge that shoppers are still able to access the full range there and then via a transactional iPad or in-store kiosk. The purchase is then delivered to the customer within 24 hours or made available for pick-up at the store in the next few days.

One might argue that the retailtainment trend is nothing new (food courts and bowling alleys located within the shopping centre are an age-old example) and yet this is perhaps the first time that we’re seeing the trend justified as part of retail spend. Marketing teams are now asking, ‘what’s the allocated budget for entertainment?’ It’s a question that is being posed more often as retailers recognize the power in delivering a completely customer-centric experience.