Walmart, Amazon, Facebook Use In-Store Experiences to Target Holiday Shoppers
The holiday season is perhaps the one time of year when people are most willing to put aside the convenience of online shopping for just a breath of the sentiment we see in the old holiday movies. Think merry crowds gathering to shop in new fallen snow with Bing Crosby singing carols as they buy the one gift their loved one has always wanted (cue Red Ryder BB Gun).
Nostalgia aside, I came across research that says forty-two percent of holiday shoppers brave the crowds and shop in-store because they enjoy the festive ambiance, and 32 percent consider special holiday activities, such as visiting Santa or ice skating, important to the in-store shopping experience.
And there is no shortage of unique, creative and inspiring in-store strategies retailers and brands are deploying this holiday season. Here are a few ways retail companies are providing hands-on, curated experiences for their consumers to drive sales.
Toy Testers: Walmart Toy Lab
As many retailers scramble to pick up the remains of the toy market left by Toys R Us, Walmart has launched a Toy Lab. Toy Lab is where Walmart’s littlest shoppers (and their parents) can play with 20 of the toys on the retailer’s ‘Top Rated by Kids’ toy list right from their computer or tablet. Like stepping into an interactive unboxing video, The Walmart Toy Lab lets kids take on the role of an official Walmart Toy Tester.
Buy Online Pick Up with Lyft: Old Navy
On Saturday, Dec. 15 and Saturday, Dec. 22, Old Navy and Lyft offered free roundtrip Lyft rides to-and-from Old Navy stores for customers who use the retailer’s Buy Online, Pickup In-Store capability. The convenient shopping service enables customers to purchase items on OldNavy.com and pick them up in stores. While this isn’t necessarily an in-store experience, the convenience of taking a Lyft helps shoppers avoid the burden of holiday driving and parking on two of the most popular shopping weekends before Christmas, resulting in less stressing. That’s an experience most shoppers want.
Augmented Reality: Mall of America
The Mall of America Holiday Augmented Reality Experience enables shoppers to discover AR experiences throughout The Mall of America on their mobile phones. This month, Mall of America debuted an augmented reality experience that lets shoppers interact with a holiday-themed story through their smartphones as they walk through the mall. Because the experience is like a virtual scavenger hunt, it urges shoppers to visit all parts of the mall, increasing foot traffic for the building’s hundreds of retailers and deepening engagement as people spend more time exploring the mall.
When people think of Facebook, they don’t immediately think retail. But then Facebook announced it would bring around 150 digitally-native brands and small businesses to Macy’s store locations via holiday pop-up shops in its ‘Market @ Macy’s’ in-store concept shop. Running through January, Facebook is featuring roughly 150 e-commerce brands in nine Macy’s stores. The brands, which are Facebook advertisers, sell in categories such as home goods, beauty and apparel.
Whole Foods: Amazon
Amazon is not one to overlook Target’s and Walmart’s advantage when it comes to in-store experiences. Not surprisingly, it’s leveraging its Whole Foods footprint to bring some of its top Amazon products such as the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV, Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets to more than 100 stores across the country. Shoppers can try Amazon devices before they buy them. Whole Foods stores have also been outfitted with Amazon lockers where customers can pick up online orders, and Whole Foods stores can process Amazon returns.
Brick and Mobile: Nike
Nike recently launched two locations where shoppers tap their phone to trigger a variety of in-store experiences. The new flagship on Fifth Avenue in New York, Nike House of Innovation 000, lets guests use their smartphone to reserve shoe sizes. While shoppers finish browsing, their selected styles are placed in a designated locker that they unlock with their phone. Items can then be scanned to check out and are instantly paid for through the details on the customer’s Nike Plus account, removing the traditional step of finding a cashier and waiting in line.
Joe Pine, Columbia professor and author of “The Experience Economy,” told Retail Dive in an interview that having an experience not only engages individuals in a personal way and creates a memory that lasts beyond the shopping visit, but also keeps customers in the store longer. “The basic principle for retailers is that the more time customers spend in your places, the more money they’re going to spend.”
Those retailers that can continue to engage with customers in ways they come to expect, whether it’s getting a ride to the store, a simplified checkout, or interactive experiences will encourage greater loyalty and inspire that feeling of nostalgia year-round.
We at First Insight would like to take this moment to wish everyone the happiest of Holiday seasons, and the best in the New Year.
Date: December 27, 2018