4 Brands With Great In-Store Experiences
As a brick-and-mortar retailer, you know that creating great in-location experiences is key for drawing in customers and keeping them coming back. But are you implementing experiences that are fun, unique and an extension of your brand? Or do customers see you as simply offering the same types of experiences everyone else is?
As you work to create experiences for your customers, look to these companies that are doing innovative, interesting and fun things to deliver a great in-location experience to their guests.
What it's doing: The Apple Store is a prime example of creating memorable and engaging in-store experiences for customers. When customers walk into the sleek, minimalist store, they're immediately greeted by an associate who helps them find what they're looking for. Customers are able to test and play with the Apple products that are set up for them to do so, they can take a class on how to use their product, or they can head to the Genius Bar to get help for a product. Associates provide high-touch, personalized experiences with each customer, from first question to cashing out through an iPhone with them on the sales floor.
Why it works: At its core, Apple provides an in-store experience that stems from its core mission of innovation, design, creativity, and its slogan that proclaims "Think Different." Essentially, Best Buy and Apple are doing the same thing: selling tech products. But stepping into an Apple store has a very different feel from stepping into a Best Buy location. Apple has created the in-store experience to reflect not only its mission but its products; with its sleek, clean and spacious layout and design, an Apple store looks like a Mac. The brand's focus on experience, connection and learning also influences how its stores are set up.
What it's doing: In 2015, Capital One opened its first café, a coffeeshop that doubles as a bank branch. Customers no longer wait in lines in stuffy traditional bank lobbies; they can grab a cup of Peet's Coffee and hang out on couches while waiting for a "cafe ambassador" to talk to them about their account. Said Lia Dean, president of retail bank and premium card products at Capital One, in a Wall Street Journal interview, “Wherever we’re interacting with customers, the goal is to understand their challenges, address them using the powerful tools we have available, and create deeper connections. That’s ultimately what’s going to best serve our customers — and differentiate us.”
Why it works: When Capital One first launched its cafes, there were some raised eyebrows. A coffeeshop in a bank? However, Capital One deliberately wanted to disrupt assumptions about what a banking experience should look like. For those who bank with Capital One, they can grab a latte and relax while waiting to meet with an associate. For those who don't bank with Capital One, the draw of Peet's Coffee and a third space to work gets potential new customers in the door, and the fact that Capital One cardholders get their drinks half price is likely a big nudge to get individuals to open an account. Trendy drinks and a cafe atmosphere can bridge the divide to younger individuals as well.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery
What it's doing: Speaking of coffee, Starbucks opened its first Reserve Roastery in 2014 to offer an enhanced experience that coffee aficionados couldn't get in their everyday stores. Roastery locations offer more high-end and rare coffees to try than regular Starbucks shops do, and guests can hear histories and stories about the bean that's being brewed from the barista. The locations also offer specialty menus that include coffee-based cocktails, libraries to learn more, tours of the roasting process, and other perks. Says one customer on Medium, “As we explored the store, our reactions and emotions went on a journey — progressing from the initial ‘wow’ of the visuals, moving onto curiosity as we looked around, and into delight as we ordered and tasted.”
Why it works: For most people, a trip to Starbucks to grab a pumpkin spice latte or a cake pop is enough of an experience, and Starbucks has proved that it works. However, Reserve Roastery locations essentially offer a "premium tier" for customers who want to explore a full coffee experience. It's also Starbucks' way of saying that it's an expert and a guide for its customers. The retailer can educate you, provide you with a unique experience you can't get elsewhere, and with so few Reserve Roastery locations around the world, that scarcity means that a visit to a Reserve Roastery becomes a destination.
What it's doing: Luxury brand FARFETCH has been at the forefront of incorporating technology into the fashion buying experience. Not only has it pioneered an e-commerce platform for luxury brands, it has embraced technology on its own platform and within its stores. FARFETCH was an early adopter of augmented reality try-on tools on Snapchat, and its London flagship, named the "Store of the Future," is powered by technology that recognizes customers as they check in, smart mirrors that show a customer's wish list and suggest products using artificial intelligence, RFID-enabled clothing racks that ping a customer's smart phone, and more. FARFETCH also uses all of this technology to collect data to improve the customer experience.
Why it works: FARFETCH's mission doesn’t just center around luxury fashion, but also e-commerce and digital technology to enhance the fashion experience. "It’s really about creating the luxury experience of the future. We’ve been omnichannel from day one. From the very start, we essentially connected physical inventory to a digital platform," said CEO José Neves in an interview with BusinessofFashion.com. "Three key facts: No. 1, digital is completely influencing consumer behavior and the creation of desire; No. 2, online is growing much faster than offline; but three, offline is still — and will be — where the vast majority of transactions take place. So how do you make sense of all of this?" For FARFETCH, it's working to integrate the digital and physical experience as much as possible.
Creating Great Experiences Today
Creating great in-location experiences are incredibly important, as 80 percent of customers say that the experience a company provides is just as important as its products and services. Take some inspiration from the brands above and create a unique experience for your customers that will differentiate you from the competition and make your brick-and-mortar stores a destination.
Bobby Marhamat is the CEO of Raydiant, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-store experience, and reinforce brand messaging.
Related story: 3 Pillars of a Great In-Store Experience
Bobby Marhamat is the CEO of Raydiant Screen Signage, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-store experience, and reinforce brand messaging. Prior to joining Raydiant, Bobby served as the COO of Revel Systems where he worked on the front lines with over 25,000 brick and mortar retailers. Bobby has held leadership positions including CEO, CRO, and VP of Sales at companies such as Highfive, Limos.com, EVO2, Verizon Wireless, LookSmart, ServerPlex Networks, and Sprint/Nextel. When Bobby's not spending his time thinking about the future of brick and mortar retail, you can find him traveling, reading, or tending to his vegetable garden.