Home Retail Here’s why you shouldn’t doubt the power of experience selling — Retail Technology Innovation Hub

Here’s why you shouldn’t doubt the power of experience selling — Retail Technology Innovation Hub

by Ozva Admin

How many times have you heard it said that people are less interested in buying things these days and more interested in buying experiences?

The proliferation of lifestyle business sales, from cooking classes to hot air balloon flights, would suggest that we are spending our money differently.

In a poor society where most of us have too much stuff anyway, buying experiences creates memories, and as things wear out or go out of style, memories live on.

Recent research from San Francisco State University (Positive Psychology journal 2021) seems to support the theory that not only do people value the things they buy less over time, but the opposite may be true for experiences.

So this sounds like good news for all those lifestyle companies, but it sounds like terrible news for retailers…

Or not?

retail evolution

A few years ago, I was in a lifestyle store in the West Country while on vacation with my family (three kids, ages 12-23 at the time) and was surprised when they each came back with something they wanted to buy. . .

I remember thinking that this place had us pretty well covered from a targeted marketing standpoint. He knew his target market and we were.

This is lifestyle retail. Retail and lifestyle merchandising began with the opening of department stores and then brand name stores.

Liberty’s is possibly the best known, and also my favorite example. They sell many different things but above all they sell a lifestyle.

Department stores, perhaps even more than others, have struggled in recent years, so perhaps the new version of lifestyle retail will take a different form.

These days, when we describe our lifestyle, we talk about what we do rather than what we own. We listen to music instead of our own records, CDs, downloads, etc. We cook instead of talking about our kitchenware.

So maybe this is where lifestyle and experiential retail come together?

experience sells

If you haven’t been to the Westfield shopping center in London recently, I highly recommend you do.

Not only is it the largest shopping center in Europe, but there is a new concept of retail that is a great experience in itself. The fact that it contains some of the best places to eat in London doesn’t hurt either, that’s part of the experience too.

You don’t get that online.

live situ it is a place in itself. It is a new retail concept featuring live theater and storytelling in six select arenas. ‘Fitness & Wellness’, ‘Connected Home’, ‘Nutritional Cooking’, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Mobile Home & Work’ and ‘On the Go’.

It encourages you to interact and learn about products in a way that some traditional retailers have struggled to do. Situ Live’s QR code system allows people to compare, discuss and shop the brand online at their own pace, exactly how consumers have been saying they want to for years.

So perhaps this is the new retail lifestyle the industry should get behind. Situ Live is a lot of fun and shows that in the end, the experience sells.

However, experience selling is not a new concept. The French book and audiovisual seller FNAC (Fédération Nationale d’Achats des Cadres.) began in 1954 near Paris as a members-only discount buyers’ club on a second floor. Today it has more than 180 stores in Europe.

FNAC hosts “forums” throughout the year in person, now also as online events and concerts that allow patrons to see, hear and interact with authors, musicians, directors and artists including Keane, Ben Harper and David Bowie.

Some stores also sell event tickets and FNAC has a loyalty program with 1.8 million members.

If anyone doubts the power of sales experience, the HMV chain withdrew completely from France after just six months in the 1990s as a result of going head-to-head with FNAC.

While Virgin Megastores remained in France, FNAC built a 32,000-square-foot store nicknamed “The Cathedral” in response to the Virgin Megastore concept.

Maybe not all sales experience needs to be on that scale, but engaging with our customers’ interests—music, cars, books, or cooking—certainly seems to work on any scale. It’s a conversation about a shared interest, not just a sales pitch, and that builds trust.

When we share experiences with our customers, they are not just our customers but we have something in common. Perhaps a shared customer experience is the best of all.

About the Author

Danny Rappaport heads the technology consulting division of PMC Retailsupporting its clients in business strategy and IT projects.

He has extensive experience in providing technology and business services to the retail, financial and CPG sectors, and is extremely passionate about the markets and opportunities that exist for clients in today’s global digital economy.

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