what is tactical retail experience?

Topshop Playland.jpg

It's not just more agency bulls%@t.

Firstly, I want to clarify what I mean by ‘tactical’ in relation to ‘retail experience’. As a creative retail brand experience agency, we are not here to help develop frictionless payment or to solve changing room woes which retailers traditionally classify as retail experiences. Our expertise, or place, is to develop more tactical physical brand experiences that engage consumers in or out of store.

Brand experience is a unique and powerful tool to more personally ‘touch’ consumers and this marketing channel is innovating its capabilities at an incredible pace. Forward-thinking brands are tapping into consumers hunger for exciting and original experiences – So it makes me ask the question, why have most retailers been so slow to employ this tool which is perfectly placed to make some quick wins in the fight to attract and retain customers?

Is it because it doesn’t fit into their (it seems only) store KPI of £ earned per square foot, or do they feel they have bigger problems to fix, or is it because it wasn’t really on their radar until some of their high street neighbours started closing their doors, or could it be that they do not know where to start or who to speak to?

Where do I start?

Broadly there are five key ‘Tactical Retail Experience’ strategies that you can employ to ‘up’ your consumer experience game:

Make your store a destination: An experience that is highly original and completely unique to your brand or product will capture the public’s imagination to drive footfall and create column inches in the press.

Experiences that scale: Investing in developing experiences or toolkits that are designed to scale creates a cost-effective solution to deploy experiences across store networks either through agency partners or internally.

Shareable retail experiences: Capturing customers excitement either by creating shareable moments and/or using technologies provides fantastic authentic online brand content.

Season, service or product launches: For when you have something really special or business critical that you need to create a big noise about.

Testing something new: When you want to test a new consumer retail or engagement format either in-store or in an external location specific to a certain audience; this form of ‘tactical retail experience’ allows you to test your ideas much quicker.

Two common mistakes.

1. The emperor’s new clothes:

The most common mistake retailers make is the use of the latest technologies (has anyone seen a magic mirror that is actually cool?). Experiences that deliver the most value to a consumer are ones that are deeply insightful and make the consumer feel valued – We love tech, but no tech experiences nearly always beats high tech! Throwing tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds at a VR experience might make the brand feel good, but it rarely provides consumers with any kind of tangible value.

2. Experiences need your support:

Even the most exciting experiences need support to make them a success. To make them fly it is essential experiences integrate with wider elements of your campaigns or channel comms, or to ‘be’ the campaign itself.

So hot right now.

What really gets us (tactical) retail experience junkies juices flowing is how some of the more progressive retailers and retail brands are leading the ‘experience crusade’ and the Australian auto part retailer Supercheap and Refinery 29 the digital media owner have smashed it. These vanguards are developing experiences that are brave but most importantly they are commercially savvy...

1. Do-rooms, not show-rooms.

Supercheap is an Australian auto parts retailer and their new store epitomises how retail experience can achieve great things. At the heart of their new store is the workshop theatre where consumers can interact in real-time with the brand, products and services. This innovative offering allows the brand to build a unique sense of community with their store at the heart of it. Whether demonstrating new products or showcasing the breadth of use of existing ones, physical retail spaces are uniquely placed to offer this experience to consumers and deliver a massive brand differentiator that cannot be easily matched (for the time being).

2. Brand playgrounds.

Refinery 29 is an American digital media and entertainment company with a focus on fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Their 29 Rooms experience is a ‘must attend’ event for the Instagram generation. The experience blends art and brand flawlessly and we see this strategy being much used by other Pureplay retail brands over the coming months. The beauty of this approach is that it removes or reduces the transactional element and creates physical experiences where consumers are more willing to engage more deeply with your brand story. It’s all about the value exchange – If you give freely, then consumers are more likely to provide you with value in return (loyalty, purchase, content etc.).

What are you afraid of?

We know first-hand that tactical retail experiences deliver powerful results for retailers and retail brands if done right. What’s important is to find the right agency partner with the right experience to collaborate with – Look no further!

Please get in touch if you would like to explore how tactical retail experiences could work for you.