How high street brands are using in-store experiences to keep shops busy

Footfall: retailers want customers to continue visiting shops (PA) (PA Archive)
Footfall: retailers want customers to continue visiting shops (PA) (PA Archive)

As online shopping continues to grow, brands are learning to be more creative with their bricks and mortar spaces.

With the focus firmly on digital platforms and delivery during the height of the pandemic, the ease and convenience of e-commerce has continued to prove a big hit with consumers.

Now, with declining footfall in-store, retailers have turned their attention inside.

Businesses are enticing shoppers back through their doors and building new consumer relationships by creating engaging in-store experiences that offer them something they can’t get online - or by bringing on and offline together in true omnichannel fashion.

From allowing shoppers to design their own personalised products to offering expert-led classes, stores are becoming more than just a place to purchase products. They are transforming into interactive hubs with new revenue streams and increased customer loyalty.

Instagram opportunities

Few brands are proving to be as innovative as the sports giant Nike, which has quickly built up a whole ecosystem of interactive opportunities and loyal, localised communities.

In select stores, customers can receive reviews of trainers with the touch of a button through its Track Table feature, or customise their own trainers and tops in the Nike by You areas – creating a whole new legion of fans and Instagram-able photo opportunities.

Sign up to one of its many apps and you can take part in a run club through its Kings Cross store, a dance club by way of its Bromley store, or yoga at its new Battersea shop.

Last year, the brand opened the Nike Rise store in London’s Westfield shopping centre that also saw the launch of digital storytelling platform Sport Pulse, providing responsive sports stories through screens and real-time data straight from its apps.

Interactive experiences

A recent survey by Raydiant found 46 per cent of consumers preferred to shop in-store than online, with 90 per cent more likely to return and 65 per cent spending more online thanks to positive offline experiences.

With this in mind, it’s clear why so many brands are redefining just what a store should be.

At the Asics flagship store in London, runners can get a 3D scan of their feet and gait analysis, encouraging them inside to get expert advice and find the perfect pair of trainers.

For the fashion conscious who haven’t got time to try on dozens of outfits, brands including Timberland and Burberry are trialling smart mirrors. These augmented reality mirrors project a user’s image on screen via a camera they stand in front of, allowing customers to virtually try on clothes or even make up. And in London’s Amazon Salon, customers can even experiment with different hair colours before choosing their favourite.

Not only are these innovative ideas fun and interactive, but they can help brands collect data, personalise customer experiences and sell products to customers online later on.

Research firm The Insight Partners predicts augmented reality and virtual reality will be worth £17.86bn by 2028 to the retail market, so it’s no wonder brands are looking to tap into the tech space more readily.

Bold events

Turning stores into event spaces has also proven to be another popular win for retailers.

From gigs to informative workshops, businesses can attract new customers to their stores and give their members accessibility to inclusive experiences, again via apps or websites.

Hamleys has regularly transformed its London flagship space for creative events, including meet-and-greets with Power Rangers, magic shows and more, keeping parents returning online and signing up to its newsletters and thousands of children entertained.

With the growth of online shopping, retailers must make the most of their traditional stores. A joined-up, omnichannel approach that promotes interaction both on and offline can lead to more sales, higher engagement and long-term loyalty.

By creating unique in-store experiences and re-inventing these spaces, businesses can attract new customers and give their stores a whole new lease of life.