How could we rethink bricks and mortar retail to focus on creating usage experiences that promote genuine brand engagement, rather than driving immediate sales?
Moving away from a transactional mentality, brands are experimenting with new retail formats that help them showcase first-hand the usage experience of their products rather than driving immediate sales.
US lifestyle retailer West Elm has launched their own boutique hotel chain, west elm Hotels. Featuring rooms fully furnished with the brand's home furnishing products - the new venture gives consumers a unique opportunity to experience what it will feel like to own their products & buy-into the brand's values before committing to an online purchase.
On a smaller scale, US bed sheet brand Parachute opened a one room hotel above their California HQ that's set to operate as a boutique travel experience, community centre, events and workshop space - all wrapped up in an authentic environment for visitors to experience and trial their linen products.
Meanwhile Sonos, is developing it's own partnerships with the likes of West Elm, Apple and AirBnB that will see their products integrated into 3rd party retail environments where consumers can not only trial the speaker systems, but understand how best to integrate the product into the interior design of their home by experiencing real life examples as they shop.
As traditional bricks & mortar retailer continue to re-invent themselves, consumers are coming to expect a degree of value-add every time they walk through a store's front doors. With these growing expectations comes an unprecedented opportunity to rethink how brands could leverage physical spaces and design truly immersive experiences that promote genuine interaction with their products rather than drive pure sales. In fact, the best retail experiences of the future may involve no direct transactions at all, but rather focus on creating an authentic relationship with a brand that will drive future online transactions.