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Finding Footfall: How retailers are embracing experiential sales techniques for their customers

Welcome to the new monthly column that shines a light on retail trends, giving you valuable insight so your brand licensing programmes can reach their full potential. This month, we explore how the store experience should be a key factor in your brand licensing strategy.

Shopping habits have shifted in this era of mindfulness – people are wanting to get their money’s worth without contributing further harm to the planet. The result? Retailers know if they want customers, providing an amazing in-store experience is key, and this presents brand licensing with a huge opportunity.

Our team has recently witnessed many savvy stores embracing experiential sales techniques to draw in customers and give them a unique shopping experience. From Gymshark’s mannequins demonstrating how ‘squat-proof’ their clothing really is to Primark opening Greggs branches in-store (sausage roll while you shop anyone?), retailers are finding innovative ways to engage with customers and demonstrate the value of their products. This means that if you want to nail the retail execution element of your brand licensing programme, you need to think about the in-store experience, too.

Gymshark only uses mannequins that are a true representation of what the nation’s bodies really look like.
Gymshark only uses mannequins that are a true representation of what the nation’s bodies really look like.

Visual merchandising has long been one of the most effective ways to create an experiential shopping environment. By displaying their products in creative, dynamic ways, retailers can attract customers and encourage them to interact with their store.

For example, Gymshark only uses mannequins that are a true representation of what the nation’s bodies really look like. Through live-casting the brand’s ambassadors, mannequins were developed through 3D printing to ensure they were as realistic as possible, and were then positioned to demonstrate different exercises. This gives shoppers a very clear idea of how the clothes will look and fit them when they work out.

And it’s not just the way products are displayed; retailers are creating great customer experiences through interactive activities too. At Nike’s NYC flagship shop, there is an in-store basketball court and football area where visitors can play while shopping for shoes and other athletic apparel. Other retailers are making use of smaller interactive displays like virtual reality headsets or touchscreens to engage customers.

Miffy's Ichiba takeover at Westfield was an incredible experience.
Miffy's Ichiba takeover at Westfield was an incredible experience.

Since last summer, Miffy has been going all-out to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit and without a doubt, the Ichiba takeover at Westfield was an incredible experience. All the selfie lovers were treated to giant Miffys and perfect photo opportunities while feasting on delicious food inspired by our favourite bunny. There were also lots of exclusive products making this event one definitely not worth missing out on.

Bookstores have always been masters at creating unique in-store experiences. From author readings and celebrity book signings, to in-store cafes with squashy sofas, they know how to attract customers and keep them engaged. When designing your own product or service, think about ways your retail partner can replicate that same experiential effect for shoppers – letting your target audience interact directly with what you have created.

The Beauty Pie pop-up gave customers a chance to try the range before buying.
The Beauty Pie pop-up gave customers a chance to try the range before buying.

Finally, personalisation and customisation are two key elements when it comes to creating a great customer experience. For cosmetics companies, online presents a huge barrier for first-time buyers who have to take a risk over which shade or product will be best for their skin.

Last year, Beauty Pie overcame that hurdle when it created a fabulous pop-up shop for customers to try the range. There were also pro make-up artists on hand to advise on what colours work best for individuals’ skin tone and eye colour. This allowed shoppers to feel like they had tailored their purchases exactly according to their own needs.

Lots of examples, but how do you get it right? The good news is that there are no set rules when it comes to experiential sales techniques. The key is to make sure you’re helping your retail partner provide an experience that allows customers to get a good feel for your products before they buy them. And, when done well, the retailer can glean invaluable insights into how people interact with the products during live experiences and use them to inform future product launches or marketing campaigns.

Thinking about the entire shopping experience is a crucial step to making your brand licensing programme a success. So, how much fun can you give your target audience?

Hannah Redler is co-founder of Spotlight.1888, which was created in November 2021 to help brands and licensees with retail services, and retailers with licensing strategy.

Based on an extension of The Point.1888’s retail-first model, whereby new products are created based on the gaps seen at retail as well as what it thinks the brand’s target demographic might like, Spotlight.1888 works directly with retailers and brands to help them fill the gaps themselves using the agency’s retail team expertise.

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