At the height of the pandemic, stay-at-home orders, “became the new normal, businesses and consumers increasingly “went digital”… raising e-commerce’s share of global retail trade from 14% in 2019 to about 17% in 2020,” according to The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
However, as society regains a sense of normalcy, it’s no surprise that retailers are looking for innovative ways to entice customers back into their brick and mortar locations as, “store customers tend to do more impulse buying. For clothing, for instance, 25% of purchases are done on a whim versus 16% online, says market research firm NPD Group Inc.
How retailers adjust to meet the changing consumer expectations will define their success post-pandemic.
Because shoppers are ready.
So much so, that a new term has pop up in the zeitgeist, Revenge Shopping. This phrase comes from, “consumers making up for lost time with an increase in spending. And many companies are using it as a lifeline to boost sales and keep their businesses afloat,” Forbes.
There are multiple lists on the web that predict how brands and stores can compete for consumer attention post-pandemic, and to sum it all up, it’s all about experience.
Recently, retailers and brands are innovating the shopping experience by setting up pop-up shops and interactive experiences. Allowing them to engage with shoppers in a creative, memorable ways to create future brand loyalists.
However, these great environments are forgetting a group of people that are just along the ride.
The one’s who’ve been dragged along for the ride, perhaps the designated driver (mom’s and dad’s), the reluctant partner (spouse/children/best friend), or the third wheel (the friend of a friend that everyone forgot was in town).
Not hard to find, they’re at the end of an aisle, escaping into their phones. Staring off into the distance, waiting to be released.
But to look past them would be overlooking a huge opportunity.
By creating a space for them to enjoy, relieves the stress of time and ultimately creates a better experience overall.
The question then becomes, how to engage them and that’s where the outdoor experience can be the solution.
If you build it they will come
Remember the days when you couldn’t wait to go hang out with your friends at the mall?
The food courts, jungle gyms, indoor water fountains.
Designed to transform a day full of errands into a fun day for the whole family.
Fun for the whole family
We’re not inventing the wheel here.
Back in 2018, Walmart converting under utilized land to, “provide community space, areas for the community to dwell—a farmer’s market, an Easter egg hunt, trick or treating, … We want to provide pedestrian connectivity from our box to the experiential zones that are planned on our footprint. We want to augment these experiences and activities with more food and beverage, with health and fitness, essential services and entertainment.”
Community shopping spaces such as Walmart Town Centers are popping up in metro areas all over the US.
Mellody Farms in Vernon Hills, IL debuted in 2019 with the, “intent to create experiences that would connect the Vernon Hills community… (with) some of the events include four monthly movie nights, 16 health and wellness events occurring almost every week, a campfire session, a trick or treat event, a dog days event and a holiday tree lighting event.
But as great as these new shopping complexes it requires new land or a costly redesign and construction.
A cheaper solution is to convert a section of the parking lot into an outdoor playground.
These empty lots can easily be converted to a great source of entertainment for the kids. A reason for them to hop in the car for back to school shopping.
These structures can be inexpensively set up for seasonal entertainment or permanently constructed for year round festivities.
Don’t forget our furry friends
Our pets have become family
Shopping centers like, “Yorktown Center in Lombard has been named the No. 1 dog-friendly mall in America by the pet travel website Bring Fido. Most stores display a paw, letting you know it’s OK to shop with your pup. You can dine with your dog at restaurants with outdoor patios, and then chill at the dog lounge,” ABC News.
Make it mobile
Unfortunately our furry friends can’t go everywhere, so why not bring the experience to them.
Vending machines are an easy way for customers to sample the products and get instant gratification.
As the retail industry focuses on enhancing the shopping experience, it’s also important not to forget the tag-alongs.
The partners, the children and of course their furry friends.
Taking inspiration from the mall experience and bringing it to shopping centers can revitalize the retail industry. However starting from scratch can be pricey and time consuming. An alternative is to take advantage of prime real estate by transforming parking spaces into family friendly sanctuaries.
These “waiting” areas can also be reimagined to invite communities, human and furry.
These community spaces are perfect for engaging with tag-alongs, converting them into future customers. Branded vending machines or interactive sample dispensers are great way to create memorable experiences in unexpected places.
Interested in exploring ways to enhance your retail experience?
We can help you build innovative ways to engage with your customers.
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