Creating a retail theatre is the very essence of literally breathing life into a physical store by infusing fresh elements into it and going beyond the mundane. These elements could be physical, audio-visual or digital or a combination of all of these. The physical elements could be product display led, engagement or activity led or even audio-visual led…
With increasing competition at one end and more retail points beginning to look like each other, the consumer has an ever increasing number of choices of where to shop and what to expect in every category from retailers in general. The moot point for brick-and-mortar retailers is the need to not just bring back customers more frequently but also positively influence their in-store journey, and in general have the ability to influence choices through information, interesting forms of engagement or entertainment. All retailers will tell you that this is easier said than done.
What with shrinking attention spans, time-constrained lives, traffic overload on roads, etc, it is tough to bring customers back to stores in any case. On top of it, with increasing penetration and convenience of online retail, the scenario for brick-and-mortar retailers starts looking even tougher.
Creating A Retail Theatre
It is in the above context that one needs to examine the significance of creating a retail theatre. To me, creating a retail theatre is the very essence of literally breathing life into a physical store by infusing fresh elements into it and going beyond the mundane. These elements could be physical, audio-visual or digital or a combination of all of these. The physical elements could be product display-led, engagement or activity-led or even audio-visual-led.
Imagine walking into a departmental store – first into the kids section to pick up something for your little star, before venturing into the evening wear section for ladies or for that matter to the men’s section and then into the home furnishing section. What if, instead of the standard uni-tonal music, the audio experience could be different in every section? The chirping of birds and animals in the kids department, followed by mellow music in the ladies wear section and then by a more aggressive sporty music in the men’s section. Would it not enhance the experience for customers and make every section seem real and lively?
Now imagine being in a food store with endless aisles of packaged food products all around you and yet you stand there confused, not sure of what to buy. Imagine a kiosk in the midst of these aisles, where a cheerful promoter is happily demonstrating a new range of cooking sauces and pastes. Don’t you automatically gravitate towards it? Or a section where the product displays are not on the standard mid-floor racks but are displayed loose like in an old style wholesale market? Does it suddenly not cue freshness better than any packaged product ever can? You can not only touch but smell, feel and sample too!
Now think of walking into a furniture store. Rows and rows of endless furniture and furnishings – neatly divided by sections. You start browsing when your eye falls on an over-sized screen where you notice one of India’s foremost interior experts sharing practical tips to make your house more beautiful and engaging with customers live!
Or an apparel store with loads of clothes and a line of customers in front of the trial rooms awaiting their turn. Replace this scenario with a Magic Mirror (recently introduced by a leading department store chain in India where customers need not physically try on products). Agreed, it’s a novelty but more than that, it’s amazingly relevant for the category too.
Digital disruption is another way of grabbing consumer attention. But digital disruption done from the perspective of analytics is likely to be less successful for offline shoppers unless it is specific, in real time and customised for individual shoppers while they shop. For instance, getting personalised offers through the deployment of beacons in stores can be both informative and engaging. Similarly, there could be other forms of digital intervention in stores that make the journey more pleasurable and remind a customer what they could be missing if they were shopping online.
All of the above are real life instances where businesses are employing retail theatre to disrupt the journey of a customer inside the store and making it more engaging, more enjoyable and giving the customer a solid reason to return back. One can think of infinite more ways to create and enhance the customers’ journey in stores. But whatever is chosen needs to be scalable and relevant to the business one is so seeking to enhance. These are things that the customer is more likely to remember, talk about and then come back to the store again for.