15. August 2017, MAXFIVE

“Just a quick bit of shopping” – those days are long gone. Nowadays, people want to be entertained when they go shopping. But what does that mean for retail and what are the effects on customers?


3rd Places
entertainment experience
production experience
retail gurus


© Konrad Karlsson

More than just shopping – entertainment meets retail

When a customer walks into a shop today, they are increasingly confronted with new options designed to make the experience more entertaining. This is not only reflected in the wide range of products on offer, but can also be found in the multitude of new communications opportunities that the retail sector is gradually putting to use for its own purposes. The focus on entertainment started to expand beyond classic leisure facilities such as cinemas to bowling halls and pizza parlours, before eventually finding its way into major flagship stores. Now almost three quarters of all retailers believe that offering an interactive shopping experience will play a decisive role in determining which stores resonate with customers.

If US retail gurus are to be believed, the “entertainment experience” process is influenced by five fundamental components


A shopping experience that appeals to all the senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. If these deeper emotional levels are addressed, the shopping experience will live on in the customer’s memory for more than just a few hours.



Everything behind a brand, everything it stands for. Language, methods and customs help to increase desire for a particular brand. These aspects should come as a surprise and be out-of-the-ordinary to give the brand an intangible value. As a result, customers no longer simply step into a store or other premises – they enter a different world. The ambience at Abercrombie & Fitch fashion stores is a case in point. The interior has echoes of a night club, the music is loud, the aroma of strong fragrances hangs in the air, and attractive employees are always ready to assist the young clientele.



Everyone is unique. Each customer wants to be seen as an individual. This calls for personalisation, even if it is only their first name handwritten on a cup of their favourite hot beverage.



Retail experiences incorporate interactions that need to be unexpected and spontaneous – a small gift here, free refreshments there. Hospitality and generosity leave long-lasting impressions.



Established processes and intensive training to ensure staff excellence are the keys to success. But retailers need to make sure that everything feels natural and spontaneous. Nothing should come across as fake or forced. There should be enough freedom to ensure that the employee’s individual character is not lost .

Still selling or already moved to “SoLoMo”?

Factors that have the biggest influence on the retail experience are (mobile) networking and interaction with customers, as well as providing active support for staff in the shape of instant access to all the information they need, such as ingredients or contents and stock levels via an end user device.
“Social – local – mobile” are huge trends that have been brought together under the acronym SoLoMo. They each describe different possibilities that can be put to use in various ways in retail. Social components make use of simple ratings systems with or without comment functions, as well as sharing tools. This puts a direct rating and feedback tool at the customer’s disposal, which they can design and use themselves. Local components include services such as searches in the surrounding area with localisation functions or check-in services. All of these offerings have to be made available to mobile users and optimised for all end user devices, in order to offer customers seamless functionality and ensure user friendliness. In addition to properly trained staff, this also calls for the corresponding end user devices .

Entertainment as relaxation

The idea of a “third place” describes an absolute countermovement. While entertainment is a major factor, it plays out differently here. Third places are spaces that are intended to create a home from home and consequently keep people at a location – and store – for as long as possible by providing a relaxing, feelgood setting. We all know the Starbucks experience : super-comfy armchairs, great coffee smell, friendly people and free WiFi.

Entertainment as a production experience

Although representing a step away from digitalisation, another concept designed to create absolute proximity to the product is a model that brings the production process into the store. In doing so, it gives retailers the chance to demonstrate and showcase the high value and quality of a product. We are all familiar with that moment when food is prepared in front of our eyes. And now retailers have the chance to familiarise customers with their product, let them participate in its creation and maybe give them some new insights along the way.


In view of the growing shift towards online shopping, it will become increasingly important for retailers to use particularly emotional highlights in their bricks-and-mortar stores to foster customer loyalty. Retail-tainment provides a wealth of opportunities for retailers to reach out to highly divergent customer groups on an individual basis, bringing their corporate values to life and increasing customers’ emotional ties to their company.

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