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The Top 10 Experiential Retail Trends For The 2018 Holiday Season

(Source: forbes.com)

People do not buy things, they buy experiences. And if you want to put your retail experience on the map, the holiday season is an important and competitive time to do it.

The holiday shopping season is always a busy and profitable time of year for retailers, but thanks to experimental design and new trends, 2018 looks to be one of the most exciting years yet. Companies are starting to understand people are not just looking for a product. They are looking for something different, like connection or meaning. How do you make people feel when the visit your online store, your app – or – when you can get them in the door, your retail space.

It often takes more than just a sale to bring in modern customers—they also need to have a great experience and build a connection with the brand. If you want to see different results this holiday season you’re going to have to do something different with your customer experience.

As we head into the holiday season let’s look at ten experimental retail trends for this holiday season. These examples show how retailers go above and beyond to create a great experience and relieve some shopping stress.

1. Casper Customers Can Take a Nap While Shopping

Who hasn’t wanted to just lie down and take a nap while shopping? Mattress company Casper has made it possible. Instead of a typical mattress store, Casper recently opened The Dreamery, a nap showroom where customers can schedule a 45-minute nap in one of the store’s many nap pods. It’s the optimal time to wake up refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to crush the rest of the shopping list.

2. Wayfair Showcases E-Design Platform in Pop-Up Shop

This year, Wayfair will feature two holiday pop-up shops to introduce its new e-design platform. Instead of shopping for furniture and holiday decor online and not quite knowing what you’re getting, the shop will feature more than 100 samples of custom furniture, plus how-to lessons about common DIY projects. The shop will also have ready to purchase items. It’s all in an effort to make it easier for customers to build a beautiful home.

3. Atom Tickets Treats Customers to VIP Movie Experience

Flying during the holidays can be stressful. To give customers flying around Thanksgiving a chance to relax, Atom Tickets created a pop-up movie theater in 2017 at JFK airport in New York City. Guests were surprised with the full VIP treatment—velvet ropes, beanbag chairs and free popcorn and snacks. The goal was to showcase the brand while helping customers escape the holiday madness and unwind in style.

4. DSW Goes Beyond Shoes for an Entire Foot-Friendly Experience

If the shoe fits…get a pedicure! DSW already provides its customers a great selection of shoes, but it recently took things to the next level by introducing services that complement new shoes. Some stores now feature an in-store spa for manicures and pedicures, shoe repairs and fittings for custom insoles. Customers can now get everything done in one place as they find the right pair of shoes and enjoy a little pampering.

5. Good Housekeeping Brings Amazon to Life

Amazon is a popular destination for holiday shopping, but there’s something to be said for actually seeing and touching an object in real life. This year, Good Housekeeping magazine is partnering with Amazon for a pop-up shop in the Mall of America during the holiday season. Good Housekeeping chose 40 top products that customers can test and experience. Customers know the items in the pop-up shop are high quality and can purchase them to have delivered to their homes.

6. Walmart Improves Check Out with Customized Service

Nearly everyone can agree that one of the worst parts of holiday shopping is the long lines. Walmart is hoping to get around that this holiday season by introducing Check Out With Me. Associates use handheld scanners to ring up items anywhere in the store, and then customers pay, take their items and go. No more long lines and waiting to pay. Check Out With Me will be in all Walmart stores by Black Friday.

7. John Lewis Helps Customers Get the Perfect Christmas Tree

Forget the days of paltry Charlie Brown trees in the corner. These days, Christmas trees have to be perfect and Instagram-worthy. U.K. retailer John Lewis introduced “treetorials” a few years ago to rave reviews. The idea is simple: instead of slaving over trying to find the best decorations and make it all work, the store offers personalized tree styling. Customers can pick a pre-assembled package or have a professional tree stylist create a unique display that matches their personal style. It’s a simple way to relieve some holiday stress and have a little fun.

8. Lululemon Gives Customers a Place to Meditate

Lululemon is known for its leggings and shopping bags that double as trendy lunch carriers, but the brand is so much more. Many stores across the country offer yoga classes and meditation spaces. Customers can even listen to self-guided meditations in relaxation pods at select stores. It’s a great way to calm down from the daily rush and connect with a brand focused on whole-body wellness.

9. Gwynnie Bee Adds Alexa to Spice Up Unboxing

Opening the mail has never been so exciting! Clothing subscription service Gwynnie Bee recently released an Alexa-powered unboxing experience. As a customer opens her package, Alexa offers an interactive experience that puts the customer in a choose-your-own-adventure  story with her new items. Customers can interact with Alexa to discover their new items and learn more about Gwynnie Bee. It’s a fun way to make every purchase personalized and exciting.

10. Joann Brings Crafters Together in Creator’s Studio

Crafters love to get together to learn and share their products. Joann Fabrics is revamping some of its stores with new interactive features that make the store more of a crafting experience and less of a typical retail store. Customers can take classes, attend events and meet other local artists, as well as pull up project inspiration from Pinterest on touch-screen kiosks. Joann hopes to bring together like-minded customers and invite others to get in touch with their creative sides.

The holiday season can be busy and stressful for customers. Think outside the box to provide a memorable experiential campaign and create loyal customers who are excited to come back.

Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, futurist and author of “More Is More.” Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here

More Info: forbes.com

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