How is Experiential Retail the Future?

You may have heard a bit about experiential retail as a key component to the overall success of a retailer. What exactly does “experiential” mean as a term, and how is the concept so useful for retailers in general? To get a little information on this concept, we turn to a panel at the ICSC Western States convention that the Los Angeles Convention Center hosted in October.
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The keynote panel at the event featured experts in the industry that could speak to experiential retail, how it works, how they use it, and its importance in the future of modern retail. Tom McGee, who holds the positions of both CEO and president of ICSC, moderated the panel. The participants here included speakers JP Suarez of Walmart’s US Realty Division, Nathalie Walton of Google’s Local Shopping, Carolyn Fields of Big Red Rooster, and Melina Cordero, head of CBRE’s retail research division. Each member of the panel spoke about some of his or her experiences with this facet of retail and how a company could use it to offer more convenience to its customers.

A key aspect of this type of retailing involves more than just selling a product to a consumer. Businesses want to streamline the entire shopping experience for the customer and get them to think about shopping in new or exciting ways. The concept of convenience is at the heart of the experiential retail model. Many businesses are hoping to eliminate lines and wait times for their customers as part of this model.

Melina Cordero suggested that growing technology will probably eliminate the standard queue that we still see stacking up at stores today. The other panelists chimed in to lend their support to this sentiment. JP Suarez is a firm believer that consumer experiences are going to be a driving factor in how retailers reshape themselves in the near future to stay relevant. He mentioned that things such as AI technology and voice activation features would further eliminate the need for a line and improve the shopping experience for customers.

Another point the panel touched on was how companies could use this model to eliminate confusion and ambiguity surrounding their products and services. New technology means new ways to keep track of a store’s inventory and provide an accurate picture of that inventory to consumers. These innovations should add to customer convenience and create fewer mistakes during purchasing.