Somewhere P.T. Barnum is smiling a big toothy grin. Showmanship, with all its fanfare, has swung from the stage into the store. With the help of cutting edge technologies, retailers are reimagining their digital experiences, and finding new ways to thrill shoppers before they even reach the exits. These five retailers are taking “experiential retail” to the next level:
1. Tommy Hilfiger: Making big-budget runway shows instantly shoppable
The next time you walk into this fashion retailer, a sales associate may offer you the latest in eyewear. Using virtual reality goggles, shoppers can marvel at an immersive digital rendition of the Tommy Hilfiger runway show—seeing the collection in its original glory on the catwalk and even backstage.
This VR event creates an exit-through-gift-shop environment where the featured garments are available the moment shoppers remove their headsets. In fact, it addresses one of fashion’s historic challenges: the waning consumer interest that occurs in the months-long wait between the show and the arrival of the collection in stores.
2. Lowe’s: Experiencing the kitchen of your dreams in 3D
There’s a new way to battle buyer’s remorse in the home improvement arena. To help shoppers truly visualize their remodeling projects, Lowe’s and Google have collaborated to create the Holoroom, a space that presents shoppers with a 3D representation of their renovation plans. If homeowners want to sleep on it, they can view the design later on YouTube 360 with a Google Cardboard viewer, free at the store.
3. The North Face: Bringing the wilderness indoors.
Welcome to The North Face. Now get out. This outdoor recreation brand wants to motivate shoppers to enjoy nature by giving them an action-packed virtual reality preview of where their gear might take them. Select stores are showcasing VR videos featuring outdoor activities in Yosemite, the Moab Desert, and Nepal. President of The North Face, Todd Spaletto believes an in-store VR experience will will encourage millennial shoppers, who are more inclined to buy online, to visit brick-and-mortar stores.
4. CVS: Making the familiar more fun
To give customers a streamlined way to shop in-store or online, CVS has created a 3D virtual pharmacy. Enter your shopping list on the iPad app, and it will show you where to find each item in the store. Plus, shoppers can manage prescriptions, check savings and rewards, or upload photos to be printed at the CVS photo center—all within the 3D pharmacy app. By echoing the already familiar in-store environment, CVS offers a seamless experience that fulfills their shoppers’ pharmacy and shopping needs on the go.
5. Samsung: Providing the ultimate in-store brand experience without the store.
Samsung describes its new flagship NYC space as the “physical manifestation” of the company’s brand. It has no products to sell, but a lot to offer in the way of experiences—experiences that can be created and viewed on Samsung products. Beam your face onto a huge screen for the ultimate selfie. Showcase your Instagram feed in a room full of Samsung displays. Watch cultural events on their massive theater screen. If you like what you see, Samsung says shoppers already have preferred outlets for buying their products.
If ever there was an opportunity to deliver revolutionary retail experiences, it’s now. Today’s retailers have a unique opportunity to engage customers beyond physical and digital brand experiences. Whether it’s through virtual runways or game-changing home improvement tools, these new consumer-facing technologies have the potential to reimagine the world of retail.