Ira Somers, writing for Massivit 3D, discusses retail advertising trends. The first is Retail As A Service (RaaS). What do Google Apps, Facebook, and Dropbox have in common? They’re all examples of Software as a Service (SaaS). Just as SaaS has seen software companies host and licence out their product for a specified period, RaaS similarly provides temporary and customised brick-and-mortar storefronts for both forward-thinking brands and even online brands such as Amazon.

Why are online brands braving the physical retail space?

Some giants like Amazon have seen their online sales growth in recent years plateau, leading to a strategic move to brick-and-mortar. Amazon has opened up hundreds of retail stores and Nike is launching three mega stores in New York, Long Beach and Tokyo.

The fact is, Gen Z consumers are still actively choosing the in-store retail experience. Sometimes known as shoppertainment, they’re not solely shopping online (according to a 2019 survey by The NDP Group).

Amazon 4 Star Retail Store – Seattle.

The psychological association of in-store shopping as a form of entertainment has led to a natural evolution of experiential marketing.

Retail as a Service – what are the perks? Temporary shops and pop-up stores afford greater flexibility and timeliness for design, messaging, and impact. Shops can be customised both outside and in-store with the latest experiential marketing tech and tools to drive each campaign. Virtual reality, 3D props and displays, movement-sensor triggers, you name it.

Retailing innovator, B8ta, is one of the pioneering providers of RaaS, offering physical real estate for brands to promote and display their products with an additional benefit – shoppers can actually handle the products out of the packaging and try them out before purchasing.

B8ta CEO Vibhu Norby inside a B8ta store. (Credit: The Chronicle/Gary Fountain).

Retail advertising trend number two: experiential in-store marketing

Younger shoppers are still in ‘discovery mode’ when it comes to their purchasing habits, according to Jefferies analyst, Stephanie Wissink. They’re after an immersive, entertaining retail experience involving trial, physically trying things on, and shopping socially with others. They’re still forming their opinion on brands.

Brands and stores are increasingly implementing experiential marketing tactics to respond to this. It often involves true-to-life sensory experiences that are fun, thought-provoking and memorable.

Themed pop-up stores, illuminated 3D characters and scavenger hunts are just a few of the retail in-store theatre methods employed by brands. New technologies like large format 3D printing can give a realistic snapshot of products in motion and offer an interactive retail experience. Augmented reality gives consumers a new and seemingly real way to interact with products, characters and purchasing. Fashion shoppers can ‘try on’ multiple outfits without changing their clothes. Sporting goods shoppers can join a virtual game to try out equipment.

Retail advertising trend number 3: hotel lobby pop up stores

Fly–Try–Buy. Another new way brands are bringing products to market is by juicing the holiday context for its unique marketing benefits. Vacationers have something we dream of every day: time. They also live onsite at the hotel-cum-store. This facilitates a captive, albeit temporary, audience. One of the latest retail trends among top brands is pop up store advertising in hotel lobbies. It’s a new avenue for brands and agencies to introduce fresh products, build brand awareness, and even allow consumers to try out products. Print shops who already offer wide format digital printing services and creative large 3D props and displays can jump on the bandwagon and create unique, high-impact retail experiences. It’s a chance to experiment with interactive in-store marketing applications and unusual point of sale signage.

Peloton cleverly took the hotel retail experience to a whole new level, allowing guests to take a sample exercise bike into their guest room for private workouts during their stay, before ordering one for home. Of course, rental companies are classic winners in this transitory holiday scenario, as proven by the inspiring story of Rent The Runway. Partnering with Marriot hotels, Rent The Runway offers guests outfits and accessories during their stay, from ski wear in Aspen to beach wear in Miami. Their campaign invites holidaymakers to ‘travel luggage-free’!

Peloton hotel try-&-buy bikes

2020 Retail as Part of Integrated Marketing

In the wake of a decade during which thousands of worldwide retail stores shut down, it’s important to maintain a broader, informed perspective. As with any deep dive into a market’s statistics, retail consumer behaviour is complex and can lead to contradicting conclusions. The 2019 consumer journey may have typically involved online product research or even hitting a ‘Buy Now’ button, but most shoppers are still visiting stores, seeking a retail experience for a number of reasons.

Furthermore, it has become evident that ‘consumers who shop via multiple channels tend to spend more with a given retailer’, meaning that even for a mega brand like Amazon, physical stores are a highly valuable exposure point.

This is why wise brands are providing consumers with the opportunity to engage and purchase via a range of touch points, whether in-store, on Social Media, or while driving. This omnichannel marketing approach remains pertinent as we dive into 2020. Retail still offers unique and concrete business opportunities, particularly in light of its ability to entertain and engage in an immersive way. Today’s evolving retail trends empower visual merchandisers and print shops to stay on their toes and identify new opportunities for creative retail advertising.

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