Experts, events, in-store demos – that’s retailtainment!

Experts, events, in-store demos – that’s retailtainment!

by Heather Briden, Director

I recently moved to Chicago, and my sister and her husband are coming to visit for the first time. Since they are both beer aficionados, I want to take them to an amazing brewpub during their stay.

But an extensive menu of draft and canned craft beers on its own isn’t enough anymore. Heck, there are 67 breweries in the city of Chicago alone, and another hundred plus in the surrounding suburbs (and that’s not even counting your average mom-and-pop bars).

No, now all the rage are beercades – brewpubs that offer the same elaborate drink menu PLUS free play on dozens of vintage arcade and pinball games.

Pass the grog, I’m playing Frogger.

This type of ‘retailtainment’ – the fusion of retail and entertainment – is a huge trend in 2017, as more and more businesses offer customers fun and unique ­experiences to ‘elevate shopping’ in their brick-and-mortar stores.

“If customers play and interact with your products, there will be more sales,” said Katharina Sutch, Global Shopper Director of Markets, LEGO, at a recent NG Retail Summit. “We like a bit of chaos in our stores.”

What retailtainments can shoppers expect? They can be as varied as the products and services themselves.

For example, I recently took a class on knife skills at The Chopping Block in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. During the three-hour course, I learned about the proper techniques for food prep – chopping, dicing and mincing – and the chef instructor recommended many items that I could conveniently buy in the retail section of the store.

And, of course, bookstore chains have long been bringing in popular authors for readings and book signings to generate store excitement and traffic.

But some retailers are going one step further.

A New York & Company store in California recently used live models (instead of mannequins) in their displays windows to attract passers-by. And it worked.

And iPic Theaters has taken the dine-in move concept up a notch, featuring gourmet cuisine and luxury cocktails in their table service for a branded ‘Ultimate Night Out.’

But perhaps most successful are those companies that incorporate their online stores as part of that unique retail experience – a true omnichannel approach.

Research shows that 50 percent of online shoppers chose store pick-up of their items, and while there, 45 percent buy something in addition to what they ordered.

Cue the live mannequins and balloons on aisle 7!

Heather Briden, Director