Shoptalk Series Part 1: Reimagining the Store Experience

Stores are no longer just stores—they’re community points, distribution points and entertainment venues. Shoppers demand unique, fun experiences, but how do retailers and brands also provide convenience, seamless shopping and a fresh, edited assortment at the same time?

This is the first of our four part Shoptalk series on “Retales From the Frontline,” presented by Mastercard. Host Matt Rubel spoke with two of retail’s store masters – Steve Sadove from the consumer side and Oliver Chen from the financial side – about experiential retail and the store’s expanded functions.

Sadove and Chen share their top tips for retailers on how to reimagine the store:

  • Tell an inspirational, not just aspirational story. Brands have to bring their stories—and their values—to life in stores. The most effective storytelling is purposeful and creates an emotional connection beyond just product.
  • Create community connections. Social media has revolutionized retail, but in-store experiences like classes and tastings bring like-minded people together in real life. They turn stores into community focal points that offer engagement and entertainment.
  • Embrace mobile phones as the new mall. Shoppers want a seamless and speedy journey that starts on their phone, whether at home or in-store, and ends with a frictionless purchase, however and wherever they like.
  • Commit to social responsibility. Consumers are less interested in owning “stuff” and more interested in supporting socially responsible brands that address environmental sustainability and diversity.
  • Build unique artisanal experiences. Brands must learn how to excite shoppers all over again through discovery – experiences need to surprise and delight consumers with unique, personal differences.
  • Merge bricks and clicks. Some 85% of shopping still takes place in-store, so retailers must offer services that fulfill both physical and digital customer expectations like in-store pickup for online orders.
  • Balance art and science. Retail tech and data science will power stores, but success means balancing both human and machine resources to get closer to the consumer. Tools and data are only as good as the people using them, and tech can’t supplant the human touch in stores.

While experiential retail appeals to all generations (who doesn’t love food, champagne and concerts?), younger shoppers are much more open to new brands and they’re focused on community. They like to be part of the creative process, and they’re engaged, ambitious and international. To hear how to hang on to baby boomer customers while also drawing in millennials, listen to the full episode.