The Art of Retail Experience and Engagement


When you think about cultivating more sales and more loyal customers for your retail business, what comes to mind? Do you think about building an audience through social media? Do you think about increasing sales and special deals? Do you think about loyalty programs and point systems? These interactions add up to customer engagement, but not necessarily a good engagement or a bad one. Measuring the “goodness” of an interaction is nearly impossible, as the same brand interaction can result in a good or bad exchange depending on the people involved. The important indicator is their experience, and it’s sorely underutilized by brick-and-mortar retail.

Experience vs engagement

In this article  by Hootsuite, they discuss the nuanced, but extremely important difference between engaging with your customers and creating an experience for them. Engagement is a customer’s direct interaction with the brand. The initiator is immaterial.

An experience, on the other hand, describes the feeling or impression you leave on your customers. It’s an emotional connection, and as such, it is completely out of your control. However, there are steps you can take to make an experience more memorable and appealing to your target market.

Aligning with your brand

Sales associates and brand reps aren’t the only communication channels that help develop a retail experience.  Visual communication plays a huge part in how others perceive and experience your brand. You can tell them you’re eco-friendly and community centered all day, but if they see that you have a chemical leak that’s contaminating a youth center’s water, they’re going to be skeptical of your authenticity. Employing banners, catalogs and other in-store elements is important. However, keeping your actions consistent with your brand message is imperative for perception, and it’s key for sales.

 Targeting and personalizing for the experience

The digital realm has a lock on this experience cultivation tactic. The technology and marketing options on and offline are incredible, but brick-and-mortar retailing hasn’t been able to catch up… yet. Advancements in heatmapping and inventory analytics are making these patterns easier to see and optimize. For example, if your green tank top is usually purchased with a black sweater, it would make sense for your store to place them on the same rack. This is the kind of nonverbal, passive communication that reduces friction in stores, and develops a consistent customer experience.

Getting customer engagement is extremely important for improving the interaction with your customer. These strategies should help you build your experiential retail strategy, help you differentiate between engagement and an experience, aligning with your core message, and personalizing to develop genuine connections. If you have questions about how to build a permanent or semi-permanent experimental retail space, fill out our contact form below.