Physical Retail Isn't Dead. Boring Retail Is.

Physical Retail Isn't Dead. Boring Retail Is.

We borrowed this title from the excellent Forbes contributor, Steve Dennis, who starts his article straight to the point: “It may make for intriguing headlines, but physical retail is clearly not dead. Far from it, in fact. But, to be sure, boring, undifferentiated, irrelevant and unremarkable stores are most definitely dead, dying or moving perilously close to the edge of the precipice.”

Omnichannel is the way to go

Shopping in physical locations keeps growing, but clearly much slower than online retail, as we all know. But first and foremost, we have to stop opposing physical retail from online: they’re both parts of the same dynamic, just at different stages.

As a matter of fact, what happens now that wasn’t possible ten years ago is that customers generally come to a store after they’ve already done their research. And this is what makes things more complicated for stores, that are now just one point of the whole shopping experience. Complicated, or an opportunity to move away from the old way of doing retail, and from the sameness that caused so many closures this year again.

Retail today has to be “omni-channel”, meaning it has to combine and optimize the back and forth between the online magma and the physical place.

Happy WOMEN SHOPPING

Omnichannel or Multichannel… and experiential (and vice versa)

To survive as a brick and mortar store, it seems that there are two ways of doing things right, particularly in the field of consumer goods: either by providing low price items (the Dollar Trees of this world), or by going experiential. After “omnichannel”, here’s another word that’s almost getting overused (already): experiential. But what exactly is experiential retail?

Some experts agree on the fact that it’s immersive, interactive, technology-enhanced, while others simply consider it is the result of great customer service, a vibrant store environment and a good harmony between the multiple digital channels and the physical stores for the same brand.

Above all, it has to be meaningful. Brick and mortar retail is (successfully) experiential when it is able to trigger something nice, something personal and something specific, an unparalleled experience for each and every one of their customers. That’s the customer experience!

You, me, your neighbor, are all different persons and we each have a different expectation of what a great “experience” should be when going shopping. But what’s common to each and all of us is that we need to be fulfilled and to have an enjoyable moment while shopping either for this pair of shoes, piece of clothing or makeup, (but also for our new washer-dryer?). it’s all about the customer journey!

Our Instagram feeds are full of these fancy pictures taken in stores where the experience prevails on the products themselves. They make you want to go to the store for the experience, not directly for the products. This is the subtle art of "un-selling", another concept that gets popular this day.


Brick and mortar retail is (successfully) experiential when it is able to trigger something nice, something personal and something specific, an unparalleled experience for each and every one of their customers.


Eventful, shareable, fast-changing experiences

Experiential retail is what Canadian outdoor apparel brand Roots decided to do when they launched their brand in the US: when they opened their first store in Boston, MA, they didn’t want it to look like a regular store people walk into, and only 25% of the space was actually dedicated to selling products.

The “wow” effect was created by hanging 1,000 socks from the ceiling and wrapping all the merchandising around the brand’s salt and pepper sweats assortment in salt and pepper-like material. And it worked: people were coming to the store just to take pictures and post them on Instagram. The brand was launched.

French clothing brand Sézane created L'Appartement New York, an intimate, welcoming store arranged and conceived to feel like home. Every month it hosts a wide range of cultural events, workshops, and private shopping experiences, and customers' suggestions are largely encouraged.

Experiential retail stores are now everywhere and we have listed a few articles below with notable examples. These case studies, initiated by large brands, are not cheap and not every retail owner can afford to put so much money into the “experience”.

We at Beautyque NYC believe in simpler ways of approaching it: pick a lane, forget everything that already exists, provides genuine, personalized solutions to your target customer, and be remarkable in every way of servicing them. And do it again.

Experiential retail is what Canadian outdoor apparel brand Roots decided to do when they launched their brand in the US: when they opened their first store in Boston, MA, they didn’t want it to look like a regular store people walk into, and only 25% of the space was actually dedicated to selling products.

The “wow” effect was created by hanging 1,000 socks from the ceiling and wrapping all the merchandising around the brand’s salt and pepper sweats assortment in salt and pepper-like material. And it worked: people were coming to the store just to take pictures and post them on Instagram. The brand was launched.

French clothing brand Sézane created L'Appartement New York, an intimate, welcoming store arranged and conceived to feel like home. Every month it hosts a wide range of cultural events, workshops, and private shopping experiences, and customers' suggestions are largely encouraged.

Experiential retail stores are now everywhere and we have listed a few articles below with notable examples. These case studies, initiated by large brands, are not cheap and not every retail owner can afford to put so much money into the “experience”.

We at Beautyque NYC believe in simpler ways of approaching it: pick a lane, forget everything that already exists, provides genuine, personalized solutions to your target customer, and be remarkable in every way of servicing them. And do it again.

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