Physical Retail Trends & Preparing for Holidays

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Nothing compares to the experience of shopping from the comfort of your own home. Whether you are laying in bed, on a lunch break or mindlessly scrolling through product pages while watching TV, it is everyone’s favorite pastime. Yet something remains so special about the traditional in-store shopping experience and 47% of consumers plan to make their holiday purchases in department stores. Full of personalized touchpoints and the chance to engage with brands face-to-face  it holds a unique attraction. As we approach the holiday season, let’s explore how you utilize some physical retail trends and make the most of the in-person shopping experience for your customers. 

Key physical retail trends: 

  • Experience > product 
  • The power of pop-ups 
  • Use of new technologies 

Experience > Product 

In-store experiences are becoming the key to brick-and-mortar success for retail brands who are trying to bring consumers back in person. With 88% of customers considering the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and service, many brands are transitioning to focus on the experience more than the product. As the holiday season approaches, retailers are recognizing that creating memorable in-store experiences is not only a year-round strategy but also a crucial element in capturing the festive spirit and attracting holiday shoppers. 

  • Apple: While the design-focused stores maintain a minimalist aesthetic, Apple places a strong emphasis on enabling customers to engage with a diverse range of products. They also offer classes, demonstrations and various activities where customers can come together and learn more about the brand’s products. 
  • Starbucks Reserve Roastery: With less than 10 locations worldwide, Starbucks has created an exclusive experience for customers to experience the best of the coffee brand while also learning about the origins and history of the products. Consumers get to experience new Starbucks creations and roasts while also paying tribute to each city’s art, architecture and culture. 
  • Lululemon: Every week, Lululemon stores across the country turn their stores into instant yoga studios. By offering complimentary classes led by instructors from the community, Lululemon is getting people into their store by bringing people together to be active and fulfill their mission of inspiring people to live their best lives. 

The Power of Pop-Ups 

Pop-up stores are short-term retail establishments that open for a brief period of time. This could be to expand a customer base, promote seasonal sales, test a new market and more. For exclusively online stores, pop-ups are a way to show products in person and have the opportunity to interact with customers face-to-face. Many stores decide to open up pop-ups during the holiday season to attract more consumers during this busy time of the year. 

  • Djerf Avenue: This Swedish, ready-to-wear brand, has been exclusively online since 2019. But last week they hosted their first ever pop-up in New York City, allowing the brand’s fans to see the clothes in person for the first time since the Djerf Avenue was founded. 
  • Skims: Kim Kardashian’s loungewear and shapewear brand has held pop-up events in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami. The most recent pop-up store, which launched in London in June, featured decor designed to evoke the ambiance of a LA poolside setting, promoting the brand’s swimwear collection. 
  • Shein: Since 2018, this fast fashion brand has been hosting pop-up events, discovering that its customers greatly enjoy the opportunity to engage with the brand face-to-face. These pop-ups also serve as an effective marketing strategy to showcase and promote new collections or collaborations. 

Use of New Technologies 

Emerging technologies have been transforming commerce, enhancing both the online and in-person shopping experiences. AI has taken over the ecommerce world, replacing mundane marketing tasks and significantly improving customer interactions through the deployment of chatbots. Simultaneously, in physical stores, AR and other cutting-edge technologies are reshaping the shopping experience, making it more seamless and immersive. While virtual try-on capabilities are particularly relevant to the world of ecommerce, these technologies are starting to find their place in physical stores, and bringing a whole new level of excitement and convenience to the holiday season, further blurring the lines between online and in-store shopping. 

  • Snap Mirrors: Snapchat recently launched their “Snap AR Mirrors” which are in-store fitting room mirrors that allow users to try on clothes and accessories virtually. They are currently being used in Sephora, Nike, Men’s Warehouse and more. 
  • Adidas: Adidas added multi-sensory installations to their flagship store in Beijing, China to create a more exhibition-like experience. The brand created a giant interactive cube offering a lottery for purchasing limited-edition items, a digital sound garden enabling visitors to dance alongside avatars in personalized music videos using AR technology and more. 
  • Lowes: With such large stores, it can be difficult for customers to find products and navigate through stores. This is why Lowe’s has started testing their “Lowe’s Vision Navigation” which helps customers by using computer vision to give customers turn-by-turn digital directions to the products they need. 

While online shopping offers undeniable convenience and accessibility, the in-store shopping experience continues to captivate with its blend of immersive omnichannel encounters, personal connections and the magic of face-to-face interactions. As we gear up for the holiday season, let’s remember how these physical retail trends can help brands create unforgettable moments, forge lasting relationships and leave a lasting impression on your customers.