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Retail Innovations Trend Spotlight: Engagement

In today’s retail environment, engaging with the customer is key to a memorable customer experience. Although more and more customers are shopping online, bricks and mortar is more relevant than ever and retailers must differentiate themselves with a best in class experience that is driven by engagement.

Engagement is essential to identify customer needs, build relationships, loyalty and a personalized shopping experience that brings the customer back to the store. Employees must fill a new role and offer what neither machines nor e-commerce can provide: education, guidance, training and entertainment to create a sense of presence and personal experience. Consumers do not choose products based solely on functional value, but, rather, based on emotions that engagement and experience ensue. Intensive storytelling and strong content are paramount in creating resonance, identification and emotional ties and boosting brand loyalty.

Retailers and brands can differentiate the experience by providing a social dimension beyond interaction and engagement with staff. By establishing the store as an experience destination, e.g., as a community hub, where customers come both to buy products, as well as a place to form social relationships, customers become tied emotionally to the brand.

The RealReal, a luxury online consignment startup that started in 2011, offers high-end brands desired by luxury shoppers and a treasure hunt experience enjoyed by discount shoppers. They have recently made the move into bricks and mortar to grow its physical presence and further engage with customers. In addition to the online experience, the store serves as a place for customers to shop, eat, purchase flowers, evaluate products to sell, and provides luxury item repair services for customers.  They have brought services to the forefront of the experience and weekly events that bring customers back into the store for something more than just a shopping trip.

Digitally native brands moving into bricks and mortar are hot in today’s retail industry. The RealReal is another brand that has created an in-store experience focused on customer engagement. The flagship store brings designer products to life and offers a space where customers can interact with sellers and see the consignment process firsthand.

Read more about engagement and other concepts by downloading a copy of our book here.

By Alex Kaufmann


McMillanDoolittle is a premier international retail consultancy bringing deep experience with world class clients. Our partners have extensive experience interpreting the retail marketplace and converting insights into successful strategies. We help clients develop innovative solutions in strategy development, the customer experience, new concepts, brand performance, retail performance improvement and retail intelligence services.

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