Experiential retail: How can screens improve the in-store experience?

4 min read

Let the retail race begin! From smarter store layouts to interactive kiosks to high-concept pop-ups, retailers across all business sectors are working rapidly to update and optimize new in-store experiences for a new era of IRL interaction.

Your brand isn't alone – 68% of retailers say they are making investments into experiential retail for 2020. Within these reimagined spaces, physical screens often play a valuable role in branding and communication. But buyers beware: unlike online shopping or social media channels, screen content in retail spaces must play a completely different role than their digital-native counterparts. They also must be designed with a different mindset – one that goes beyond the business of selling and instead, strives for excitement, inspiration, and engagement.

At Trollbäck+Company, we've been designing for screens for 20 years. First, it was the silver screen, then TV, then mobile – and finally, experiential. Regardless of screen size, the consistent insight for all of our projects has been that successful screen content is not about optimizing for transactions, it's about delighting audiences.

As we think about how to engage and entertain for the next generation of retail spaces, we believe this could be the most exciting opportunity yet for retailers to create more meaningful connections with people.

Battle screen fatigue

Let's face it: People are constantly surrounded by screen-based content and advertising, to the extent that most becomes invisible at best, and existentially taxing at worst.

Create retail content that goes beyond brand awareness and aims to delight shoppers instead.

Engaging screen content shouldn't just be about attention-grabbing visuals and compelling motion. It should also be about telling a story, ideally in a way that helps your audience put themselves into an inspiring scenario with your brand. For example, an engaging documentary, a beautiful mural, or a playful approach to wayfinding. All will take them on a journey they weren't expecting. Statistically speaking, the more memorable an interaction is, the more likely a customer is to return.

Create additive experiences

Experiential research shows that shoppers would rather be treated as loyal customers – not unsuspecting consumers – while they're shopping. They want to be entertained. They want to be engaged. They want to have an experience they cannot get while shopping online.

Don't use screens to sell things inside the store. Instead, aim to create an additive physical experience.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the intention of physical screens in your new retail space shouldn't be to drive purchases. The bigger opportunity is to provide an unexpected twist to the shopping experience that builds loyalty for your brand. Even better if that experience helps increase engagement – by showing off your social media, for example, or prompting shoppers to interact with the display (yes, even if that means simply taking a selfie). By taking a stand for your customers and understanding that they might not want to be advertised to on a giant screen, they're more likely to take a stand for you.

Make it local

In the era of online everything, people are actually craving IRL experiences more than ever. Case in point: 69% of consumers today believe attending live experiences helps them connect better with a brand, their friends, and their community.

To make your screen content stand out, leverage the local history and culture of your community in exciting, informative ways.

Showing off timely, useful, or local information that relates back to your brand can also help make in-store screen displays more engaging. Clothing brands can let people in on the latest trends or runway shows, for example. Outdoor outfitters can show shoppers what the weather is like on a nearby mountain they might want to hike. Restaurants can tell people about seasonal ingredients or chef recommendations to help hungry patrons make a more informed decision when they order. This once again, helps inspire your customer instead of simply telling them what to do.

Tell a larger story

Experiential content is one of the few places people can really take the time to engage with your brand for more than a fraction of a second. Why waste that on prices or promotional copy?

Think stories, not sales. Give audiences a reason to not just buy – but to come back time and time again.

In digital retail, optimizing for the fewest clicks to drive a purchase typically has the unintended effect of reducing the amount of time that a consumer spends getting to know your brand more deeply. For many retailers, this means that important or noble initiatives that might include Fair-Trade practices, working with makers or communities, and other brand stories, don't get the attention they deserve. Retail screens are wonderful places to tell this larger brand story, where audiences have more attention than on digital and mobile.

The bottom line? Do something special. Add value to their experience with visuals that are experimental, expressive, eye-catching, and/or funny. More art, less commerce. Make it instagrammable! Take chances, push boundaries, and keep it fresh.


This article was written by Alex molton from Retail Customer Experience. News Features and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

author placeholder image

Alex Moulton