Baby, It’s Old Outside: 3 Ways to Spice Up the Shopping Experience

By Nicolette Hitzel, Marketing Manager

“BLK. FRI. 50% OFF” – Banana Republic
“You Are Gifted. BLACK FRIDAY EVERYTHING” – Urban Outfitters
“Good Things Come in Warby Parker Packages” – Warby Parker

In Center City Philadelphia, it’s impossible to ignore the holiday promotions competing for shoppers’ attention. What’s interesting is to see the various tactics, or lack thereof, at play by different types of retailers.

The retail landscape isn’t shifting, it HAS shifted, making way for new business models that align with our tech-driven and online-focused world. Digitally-driven brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker are no longer unicorns within the retail sphere, they’ve become retail’s new normal.

Bonobos and Warby Parker are two well-known brands that got their start in e-commerce. Today, both have brick-and-mortar locations in many major US and Canadian cities. Shoppers can visit these “showrooms” where they can touch, feel, and experience products in person. From there, consumers place their order and wait by the mailbox.

How are these brands capitalizing on the holiday shopping season? While Warby Parker is getting into the holiday spirit with storefront displays, they aren’t promoting holiday sales. The brand doesn’t feel pressure to participate due to already competive and transparent pricing. Bonobos, on the other hand, offered up to 30% off of total purchase on Black Friday.

Experts believe that 2017 will go down as the worst year on record for brick-and-mortar retail. So what types of tactics are traditional retailers deploying in order to stay relevant during the holiday shopping season and beyond? Much attention has been placed on understanding consumer mentality and there’s no surprise that consumers are complicated. A recent survey by Brownstein Group found that many products purchased online fail to meet expectations, preventing repeat purchases. Additionally, in-store shoppers are more informed and independent than ever. Perhaps it’s the role of Sales Associate that’s dead, not the in-store experience overall.

We can all agree that retail brands should adopt an omni-channel approach. The brands that are really winning, however, are the ones that are giving consumers exactly what they want, possibly before they realize they want it. Here are a few ways brands can stay ahead:

Augmented Reality: AR takes your real-world environment and “augments” certain elements by enhancing what you see, hear, feel, and smell. IKEA created an app that allows users to view furniture in their homes before bringing it home. TIP: Use AR to manage online customers’ expectations. The Warby Parker model may not be right for you, but you can still allow customers to try before they buy.

Experiential Marketing: A strategy that directly engages your customers by encouraging them to participate in an event, experiential marketing can lead to user-generated content and provide useful customer data. TIP: Tie your social strategy into the campaign to expand your online footprint organically.

Social Influencer Capsule Collection: One step beyond influencer marketing, with a capsule collection you’re offering a special and timely reason to buy. Nordstrom recently partnered with Arielle Charnas of the fashion blog Something Navy to design her own line. Arielle and Nordstrom hyped it up on social, and product flew off the shelves. TIP: Do your homework. Recognize that this is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and focus on a specific audience segment.

These three tactics have one objective in common: Create a memorable (and Instagrammable!) experience for your customers. With the holidays looming near and 2018 around the corner, what do you have planned to connect with your customers?

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