The idea around experiential retail stems from the modern consumer’s desire to get more out of the shopping experience than just a product. Research last year from PwC found that consumers aged 18-34 are more interested in spending their money on experience-related purchases. Those experiences in turn fuel the experience economy (pdf) by channeling spending and leisure time to social experiences rather than material possessions. 

To harness these trends, retailers are altering the way in which they deliver customer service to meet the changing expectations of these experiential consumers. They are creating new and innovative shopping experiences such as cooking classes and running clubs that deliver unique experiences each time shoppers enter their stores. 

Creating Experiences Online Is the Challenge

However, figuring out how to recreate these experiences online isn’t so easy. That’s where some insights into what digital experiences customers really want and what strategies retailers should implement to best reach experience-driven shoppers can be very useful. 

To that end, our team has identified four experiences that today’s customers really want and created some strategies for addressing those needs across in-store and online touchpoints. 

1. The Luxury Shopping Experience

We all know luxury shoppers: they expect white-glove treatment the moment they walk into a store and always want to feel like the most important person in the room. To provide the same elite experience online, retailers need to understand who each individual customer really is so they can deliver a luxury experience that is specific to each customer. 

Knowing a shopper’s name the second they enter your website, offering them exclusive views on items they’re interested in and sending them discounts on items in their shopping carts are three strategies to give luxury shoppers the digital equivalent of feeling like the only person in the room. 

2. The Active Shopping Experience

Active shoppers seek a brand that embodies the lifestyle they strive for. Because active shoppers feel passionate about each product they purchase, brands that successfully provide these experiences go beyond simply selling a product to exemplify an ideology. For example, an athleisure brand might host yoga classes and training sessions in stores, allowing customers to try the clothing before they buy and building loyalty and evangelism in the process. 

To translate this experience to digital, retailers need to guarantee they are staying up-to-date with what is trending and cater each interaction to what is new and cool. Sending customers suggested work out routines or tutorials could be an effective way of reminding online customers of your brands unique value proposition. 

3. The Connected Shopping Experience 

Connected shoppers always have their smartphones close by and typically engage with their favorite brands on a retailer’s website or mobile app. These shoppers want to know about new products the second they are released and seek a connected experience across all channels. 

The challenge with connected customers isn’t so much translating the brick and mortar experience to digital as it is translating the desktop experience to mobile. Here’s where it’s useful to understand that connected shoppers welcome content — such as push notifications and personalized emails — that is new, exciting and informative. 

Offering incentives that can only be accessed via mobile or using an app to leverage location-based technology when a store is nearby are two ways to create a more seamless and engaging experience for connected shoppers. 

4. The Curated Shopping Experience

Curation-oriented shoppers want to put forth minimal effort when purchasing products and expect retailers to serve up appropriate options based on their past purchase histories or product preferences. 

The curated experience consists of consumers defining what they’re looking for when shopping and the retailer delivering it right to their doorstep. Oftentimes, this takes place in the form of a subscription model such as StitchFix, Birchbox or Le Tote. Using this model allows retailers to define which products are successful and use those insights to better tailor future deliveries.

Create Unique Experiences for Unique Customer Journeys

Keeping these four experiences in mind, a successful online experiential strategy is also one where retailers anticipate why a customer would choose to leave their site and provide them with touchpoints that encourage them to stay. 

With shopper intelligence tools and machine learning technology, retailers can unlock insights from existing shopper behavior and interact with each customer on a much more personalized level. Only with data-driven insights can retailers deliver the right experiences to each individual customer. Every consumer has a unique journey and successful experiential retailers will understand that and tailor each engagement strategy accordingly. 

Title image Fouquier ॐ, public domain