The P+S team works with a number of retailers on both innovation and e-commerce. So it’s important for us to know what’s happening in retail, what works and what...doesn’t. So we recently took a Friday field trip to discover a variety of different popular retail activations.
From our sample of 10+ stores, we were able to identify some important benchmarks to hit if you’re going to invest in this area.
The stores we hit up:
Be Authentic - One of our unexpected favorite immersive retail experiences we hadn’t even planned to visit. Farm Rio is a Brazilian fashion brand that’s recently opened their first US store in SoHo. So how does a relatively unknown Brazilian brand command attention in one of the world’s busiest retail centers? By creating a beach paradise. Some strategic placed tropical plants and a sandy floor are really all they needed to create a physical translation for the brand. And it works. Why? Because not only is the activation truthful, it’s also fun and instagramable.
One of the only stores that managed to use high-tech in a way that actually served their customer was Amazon Go and that’s the result of many millions of dollars and years of development. Download the app. Pick your products and walk out. Perfect for locals and work breaks.
By contrast, Rebecca Minkoff’s smart dressing rooms left us wanting. The first employee we spoke to seemed to know nothing about them. Then with a little exploration, we found out they didn’t work.
The real question is, “does a luxury accessory brand with only around 40 pieces of clothing in their catalog need a high-tech dressing room?” Low engagement may be why the brand stopped maintaining the tech and training their sales people.
High-tech dressing rooms can work. Reformation, an innovative minimalist retail company with a strong e-commerce presence has seamless tech assisted dressing rooms that feel on brand.
We really enjoyed the little sleep houses at Casper which allowed us to try out the mattresses without feeling on display. They were fun, cozy, and most importantly made the experience of both the shopping AND the mattress better.
Camp is another great example. They mix a toy store with a play area. Complete with scheduled activities. The holistic experience makes both shopping for toys and playing with them, more fun.
On the flipside, both Sonos and Samsung seemed to drop the ball here a little. Samsung had so much potential but the experience felt disjointed without a real perspective.
Sonos built little listening rooms, with speakers, but they didn’t replicate or enhance the experience as much as the little bedrooms at Casper.
We definitely see that the retail experience is evolving. It’s important to understand what’s happening in your space and this is a great tool to have in the arsenal. But it’s not a simple solution for every brand. Make sure that you have good answers to the questions below before you start spending money and energy here.