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The Necessity of Experiential and Omnichannel Retail

By Ted Lundeen

Brands that are thriving in today’s retail environment are multi-taskers.  They not only deliver on value but provide unique customer experiences that can be highlighted via social media to increase brand recognition. It’s no longer enough to toss on Hot97, jack-up the AC and open your doors – retailers need to offer a compelling reason for customers to get out of their apartments while leveraging multiple retail channels. These six retailers offers an experience that customers can either post to Instagram or Snapchat, interact with, relate to or learn from and ultimately expand their business:

  • Bandier, a high-end activewear boutique, has a dedicated studio within the store for fitness classes and panel discussions that counts Kim Kardashian, Olivia Culpo, Liv Tyler and Jordin Sparks among its biggest fans.
  • Alexis Bittar, jewelry maker best known for its signature Lucite bangles and runway collaborations, employs sketch artists to take residency in their Broome Street location and provide customers with a glamorous POV while they try on new pieces from their seasonal collection. 
  • Shinola, Detroit based and American made leather-goods, bicycle and watch brand, partners with The Smile of Bond Street at their Tribeca location to offer a small newsstand cafe and limited seating that turns caffeine seekers into customers and doubles as a social/meeting space.
  • Saturdays, originally surf-centric turned urban menswear apparel company, has a coffee shop and backyard space in its Crosby Street flagship, as well as curates and distributes a namesake magazine with rare interviews from industry tastemakers.
  • Minsai, handmade nautically themed men’s accessories company, features an in-house tea counter that seamlessly incorporates elements of their brand while also offering an alternative to neighboring Saturdays coffee shop and the litany of cafes in the neighborhood.
  • Reebok partnered with Highsnobiety, an online publication covering trends in streetwear, music and culture, to honor the ladies-classic Freestyle Hi with an exclusive party featuring limited edition gifts, custom photobooth and a super-rare sneaker giveaway featuring shoes signed by Teyana Taylor.

Today’s retailers need to operate online and on the ground while leveraging in-store experiences and events to keep customers walking in the door and constantly interacting with the brand. Ken Bernstein, CEO of Acadia Realty Trust, points out that “retail has always been Darwinian and always been cyclical”. Consumer confidence is the highest it’s been in over a decade and retail sales in the US reached $4.8 trillion in 2016 according to the Department of Commerce, and only $394 billion, or 8%, was online.  Retail is extremely healthy, it’s just that certain brands are struggling to connect with consumers.