Experiential Retail is not afraid of e-commerce

Experiental Retail, Fashion Industry, Online Shopping

  • Bree Kish, American Model

    After the internet, experiences have had to be redefined and improved in the fashion industry, especially in retail stores. Going shopping used to be considered fun, but today, it can be deemed as a waste of time or superfluous; mainly because e-commerce can be very enjoyable and accessible.

    Although, personal experiences are still the most desired, especially for social media users that love sharing their best times. And if people are frequently looking memories to share moments, retail stores can surely break standards and triumph over online shopping.

    There is a concept rising in marketing that relies on a holistic way of creating multi sensorial experiences for consumers: which it is known as “Experiential Retail”. It consists in developing in-stores designs that allows diverses interactions in an absolutely unique and outstanding atmosphere.

    The term has been used between business insiders since early eighties. In 1982, Holbrook and Hirschman founded “experiential marketing” as a concept, and defined it as the consumption of fantasies, feelings and fun.

    The first brand to implement this marketing model was Coca Cola in 1986, by giving away sample coupons and selling the glass for five cents during the first day of release. In their first four years the brand was available in every state of USA. The focus was to make the experience of tasting Coca Cola accessible, and to create a friendly relationship with customers.

    A pure example of today’s Experiential Retail in the fashion industry are pop-ups stores. The first one was founded in 2004 by Rei Kawakubo from the fashion label Comme des Garçons. This business concept is about temporary shops that embodies an entire artwork; and are completely open to versatility, technology and innovation.

    One day, they can host a dining meeting; on the other, a cocktail evening party.

    By investing in memorable experiences, pop-ups intend to reach emotionally connection with their customers, which also means more presence in social media.

    Even online shopping is pretty attractive for its comfortness, fashion has always been about the experience.

    The industry of Fashion Designers as brands started with fashion houses which used to encompass a wholly lovely familiar atmosphere. They were as cozy as luxurious.

    At the beginning of twenty century, designers showed their pieces through events called "Fashion Parades". These were events attended by women to drink tea and appreciate the live models that were walking slowly around the room, exhibiting the designer pieces. These parades were fun social occasions.

    Lady Duff Gordon, an edwardian era designer, noticed the lack of creativity and personality of models in the fashion parades, and decided to assemble a revolutionary afternoon meeting in her house to show a collection she named “Gowns of Emotion”, that event gave way to what is known today as Fashion Shows.

    On another side, Paul Poiret marked the industry producing the most iconic fashion custom party in 1911, in which 300 guests attended. It was known as the "Paul Poiret's Thousand and Second Night Party". In the invitation, it was specified that everyone had to be dressed in Persian fashion, and in the middle of the night, Poiret surprised everyone with models wearing his Lampshade Dresses, establishing one of the most legendary fashion silhouettes in history.

    The fashion industry has always been linked with social events, that could mark history from the comfort of a home. Today, there is a huge range of possibilities for retail stores to increase sales through face-to-face experiences.

    According to many official sources, youths generations, especially millennials, who are in their twenties and thirties, are the most educated in history. This sparks a trend in the UK, in coffee and food retail stores, of producing workshops and preparing educational conferences. With that, they appeal to those big masses that appreciate learning. In fashion, it could be about basic lessons of trends, styling, social media, fashion communication skills, and so on.

    While online shopping means a universe of stores, styles, and possibilities. Physical fashion commerce can offer unforgettable sharing experiences. The smell, colors, design, music, authentic and dynamic decoration, dreamy fitting rooms, lighting, personalized attention, familiarity, packaging, receipt, free wifi, tailor services, free pastry tastings, coffee, champagne or wine available for free or economic prices; all this and any other innovative idea can improve sales and flow of consumers in experiential retail stores.