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Magic Moments With Machines

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Surender Gnanaolivu
Surender Gnanaolivu
Surender Gnanaolivu is a retail experience design Curator and chief of strategy and development at 4Dimensions Retail Design. He has experience of over two decades in retail strategy, retail design, phy-gital experience design, retail marketing, visual merchandising, training, teaching and writing.

A look at how some leading brands are differentiating through experiential selling of CDIT products

New Delhi: Traditionally, the buying of a gadget or appliance was based on necessity, price and promotion. We would step into a multi-branded store, unemotionally compare price and features between brands amidst the voice over of a sweet-talking salesman and take a call. Sometimes, stubborn customers were broken with free giveaways (usually cheap stuff that you probably never needed) at the billing point which was then supposed to complete a satisfied shopping mission. Today, the informed and connected consumer is looking to make meaningful and memorable shopping journeys delivered in ‘memorable moments of magic’ in the store environment. Here are a few that have been etched in my memory during my markets scans while shopping and travelling in India and overseas.

Sucking it Up

The first bagless vacuum cleaner using cyclonic separation technology, invented by inventor Sir James Dyson, stands for a clearly superior experience for the user.

The store experience humanizes this magnificent machine with a simple ritual – the customer gets to dump and dirt of choice from a dirt bar and suck it in a quick magical swoosh using their marquee vacuum cleaner. Till today, I have a lasting brand recall as a feeling of triumph after executing that move.

A visit to a telecom store is traditionally the last resort to solving a chronic problem. Spanish telcom brand O2 changed this sentiment to excitement. The store was reimagined into an inspirational social hub for new technologies, partnerships, community events and engaging service.

I strolled in to charge my dying phone at the store’s community table and there was a tabletop projection welcoming me and prompting me to ask for a free coffee, which I did. Along came a friendly brand representative with a hot cuppa who struck up a casual conversation which led to him explaining the benefits of the brand’s services and products. If it hadn’t been for my tourist status, I would definitely have converted.

Picture: Dalziel & Pow, London

All the Apples in One Basket

Apple engages with its community in its retail stores in ways to create brand ownership like no other. Their crowd puller programs, such as is “Today at Apple”, “Tech Talk” and “Creative Pro”, cover topics like photography, music production and coding, designed to educate and inspire customers, to make them brand zealots. The store I visited in downtown Chicago had customers packed into the store with the same fervor one would see at a rock concert.

The store, and its experience, were designed to magically keep a significant part of the crowd engaged in a session and had the rest swarming around displays to get their hands on an apple device.

Magic Moments With Machines
Picture: Surender Gnanaolivu

The Magic Position

Creating moments of magic in retail spaces requires creativity, a deep understanding of customers and their motivations, and a commitment to exceeding customer expectations. Delivering unique and delightful experiences can help build unshakeable emotional bonds, long lasting relationships and zealous community members who help the brand dominate in a competitive marketplace.

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