Aaaah… the holidays. They are upon us, and the retail industry is stepping up in fun and exciting ways. Leading retailers are implementing new stores that are uncharacteristically interactive. They have determined that in-store experiences add up to stronger sales.
More and more Americans have decided that they want experiences over objects. And this includes holiday shopping. Perhaps our recent quarantine has also affected how people want to shop. Either way, top retailers are diving in headfirst.
According to a recent survey, 42% of shoppers conveyed that Black Friday in-store shopping holds more importance now than before the pandemic. Moreover, 63% of those surveyed considered Black Friday in-store shopping a tradition. It seems that not everyone wants to shop solely online after all.
With this revelation, realtors are taking no chances. Annual holiday sales have long been the assurance of a successful year. But in order to ensure this last-minute rush of sales, some realtors are implementing “retail experiences.”
H & M’S Rotating Store
Stories have chapters. And the latest H & M store has stories to tell with themed chapters that will change periodically. H & M Williamsburg is a new store that has implemented a retail experience like no other. They are in fact, writing their own story that will last all year long.
Every 30 to 90 days H&M will unveil a new “chapter,” bringing to life an interactive shopping experience. According to H & M executives, this page-turner of a concept “moves at the speed of style.” This retail story will include new fashions, visuals, events, and neighborhood partners throughout the year.
Located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, the 7,000-plus sq. ft. store will feature the brand’s premier styles. More intriguing is the concept of exclusive programming in a space designed to evolve throughout the year. This story includes both cultural and community activities that create an environment of inclusion.
The first “chapter” of the H&M Williamsburg concepts reveals the brand’s holiday campaign. It will run from December 1 to December 30. Titled “Brasserie Hennes,” and inspired by a wintery French brasserie, the space features items from H&M’s holiday collections. More intriguing is the curated market of local Williamsburg merchants selling accessories, beauty products, gourmet foods, home goods, seasonal goods, and vintage pieces.
Instead of fearing the competition, H & M is embracing the idea of creating an all-encompassing shopping experience for their customers. By bringing the neighborhood together, H & M is creating an experience of a family that some shoppers may not have otherwise.
Beginning in January, H&M Williamsburg will offer unique customer activities that occur twice a week. Each event will center around art, fashion, and music. Special guest appearances and participants will include both local businesses and personalities.
In addition, each week a neighborhood partner will curate a Friday event. Each fun “hang” will include artists, DJs, and style makers. These individuals will work together to introduce the next “chapter” for both VIP guests, as well as the general public. These retail experiences will not only unite the community but also give customers a fun event to look forward to at their neighborhood H & M store.
The latest in retail technology
The latest retail story definitely includes technology. And H&M Williamsburg is no exception. It enhances the shopping experience with ease and a dash of whimsy. The use of RFID will give store employees full visibility of inventory and size options in real-time. This will make finding the right size or perfect gift a more streamlined process. After all, efficiency is a necessity for any 21st-century story.
An exciting part of this recent upgrade in technology is the option for mobile payment from anywhere in the store. Yes, you read that right. You can find the exact perfect, last-minute gift, whip out your phone, and pay right then and there. You can skip the lines!!!
Additionally, the Williamsburg story includes smart mirrors in the fitting rooms. These tech-savvy mirrors can identify customers’ products, including the size and color, and provide personalized product or styling recommendations. So, we don’t have to leave the dressing room to garner another size or a different color? That’s a storyline we can get behind! How about you?
“The future of retail is in experience.”
Bloomingdale’s implements metaverse
Bloomingdale’s initiated its metaverse story in September 2022. A virtual store introduced during New York Fashion Week celebrated the anniversary of this upscale department store. This interactive experience conveyed the evolution of the brand from Bloomingdales’ first location to the present. Additionally, games, surprises, and a unique Bloomingdale’s collection were also a part of the retail experience.
For the holidays, Bloomingdales has unveiled a virtual store in the metaverse that houses themed spaces for specific brands. This same store features exclusive collections from brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, David Yurman, MCM, and Baccarat. In true luxury style, this store offers a beauty/spa room, party room, and gifting experience. This is “next level” shopping previously imagined in the Jetsons’ cartoon.
Shoppers can transition between brands through a virtual “elevator” located in the store. The branded shopping experiences include the first-ever virtual Chanel store, located on… the moon. Shoppers can step into a Nespresso virtual store that takes them to a Parisian café. And if you are looking for a white Christmas experience, the Ralph Lauren virtual store features a forest encounter that leads shoppers to a ski chalet. It’s metaverse at its finest.
If you would like to experience Bloomingdale’s metaverse store personally, it is available for access on its e-commerce site.
Livestream debut with holiday series
In addition to expanding its metaverse shopping presence, Bloomingdale’s is also making its first venture in livestream commerce during the 2022 holiday season. Through the end of the year, two Bloomingdale’s Outlet stores will host a six-week, 10-episode holiday livestream shopping series.
These events will focus on gift-giving and styling during the holiday season. This retail experience offers real-time shoppable content and virtual fashion and shopping advice from host sellers. The hosts’ answer questions, as well as model and style potential purchases. Essentially, shoppers have an editor for their own stories.
The new retail experience
Deep down, we’ve always known the most beautiful holiday memories are created through experiences. We are moving away from a “the one with the most toys wins” mentality. Now we want a special encounter that will last a lifetime in our minds.
As retailers buy into providing us with those memorable shopping experiences, we buy into them. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.
If you are a retailer that would like to add fun graphics for branding, signage or safety and security film to your store – NGS offers national service. To learn more about our products and what we offer, watch our demonstration webinar: https://www.filmsandgraphics.com/webinars/product-demonstration/
Featured Image Credit: Korie Cull