Aside from reasonable prices and high-quality products, retail stores should also offer a unique in-store experience. This means that when a customer walks into your shop, they should feel immersed in the environment. A unique in-store experience enhances your branding and increases sales as well as customer loyalty.
Without an excellent in-store experience, your retail store will look basic in the eyes of your customers. Your branding will have no distinct quality. You don’t even need to have a physical store to create a good in-store experience. An e-commerce website can make it, too. Amazon, for instance, immediately transports you to a mall-like environment when you visit their website. For a moment, you can forget that you’re at home, your attention diverted to all the shops and products you see.
But of course, in a physical store, the customer experience should be better than what e-commerce shops can offer. As the customer is in a physical space, they should be engaged with the environment because that would encourage them to go out of their way and come back to your store sometime in the future. This is why big brands go above and beyond with their store design. From high-quality video wall systems to simulating cozy homes, below are the brands that nail the innovative in-store experience:
1. Zhongshuge Bookstore, China
This bookstore will take you to a library, unlike anything you’ve seen before. It boasts black mirrored floors paired with two walls of arched shelving, creating the illusion of an endless funnel of books. There are writings on the walls as well, which gives off an ancient feel. The bookstore’s design, courtesy of Shanghai-based studio XL-Muse, was inspired by the rich heritage of Yangzhou. The city is known to be a historical place where the literati gathered.
The arched shelving represents the “24 bridges” in Xueqin’s verse, while the swerving line on the ceiling represents clear waters or the river. Visitors are supposed to “go with the river’s flow” as they explore the bookstore. The act is compared to “swimming in the vast ocean of knowledge.”
2. Louis Vuitton, New York City
There are hundreds of Louis Vuitton stores all over the world. But a particular one in 122, Greene St., New York, stands out. The store has an ever-rotating smaller “lab” space, which gets renovated every few months. Such is done to capture the brand imagery of collaboration or focus on a new product line or collection.
The lab space undergoes exterior repainting, new graphics and windows, and a full-scale interior redesigning every few months. Nothing of the previous concept is left behind, not even hooks or hangers. Without a doubt, this is a costly venture for Louis Vuitton, but knowing their brand, their strategy isn’t questionable at all. Their lab space shows their commitment to artistry and experimentation, which they would like their customers to experience first-hand when they visit the store or use LV products.
You’re probably not expecting this mass favorite to come after Louis Vuitton, but McDonald’s deserves a top spot for their simple yet innovative in-store experience. If you dine inside the fast-food store, you’ve surely noticed or used their electronic menu. This device shortened the queues and gave people with trouble ordering from the counter a more convenient alternative. After acquiring Dynamic Yield, McDonald’s got the device, intending to make their menus more “technologically dynamic.”
The electronic menu may not be much compared to what other companies offer. Still, the convenience it has given is big enough to make people admire McDonald’s and their consideration towards certain types of customers.
4. The Writer’s Block, Las Vegas
A good in-store experience doesn’t have to be filled with tech and other expensive innovations. Sometimes, a simpler but more straightforward approach works better. That’s what The Writer’s Block in Las Vegas creates. They don’t use cutting-edge technology; only a fake forest backdrop adorned with artificial birds. It creates a cozy, intimate ambiance, perfect for book-lovers and writers seeking quiet. True enough, the independent bookstore doubles as a writer’s workshop. They also hold readings and signings from time to time, and popular authors can be seen regularly visiting the store.
Providing a high-quality in-store experience is more important than ever nowadays because of the pandemic. With people limiting their outdoor trips, brands with physical stores are facing challenges. High-end luxury brands are particularly disadvantaged because an online model isn’t traditionally part of their branding. Hence, by improving their in-store experience and reassuring customers of their health and safety, retail stores can bounce back. Customers will rediscover their love for shopping in-store.