9 ways to impress retail customers with the visually unexpected


(Source: Retail Customer Experience |

Here are tips from Retail Customer Experience on how to use visual experience a significant part of your retail store and improve customer experience and ease while shopping: 

By: Ron Lutz, EVP and chief client officer, Miller Zell

In today’s retail environment, one thing is quite apparent: consumers expect more from their shopping experience. But living up to customer demands is an area where many retailers are struggling.

To succeed in this endeavor, savvy retailers recognize that appealing to customers means relying on the unexpected to create a memorable visual experience. This includes everything from store design, customer engagement activities and, most importantly, the way products are presented for display and consideration.

So, how can retailers deliver the unexpected? Here are nine approaches to help create a visually inspiring experience.

Create hybrid spaces

Appeal to the diverse nature of today’s shoppers by creating mixed-use spaces that bring together varied interests. For example, Toyota recently launched a number of pop-up cafés that showcase their cars in a relaxed setting where patrons could enjoy a cup of coffee. By moving the cars out of the showroom and into a café, Toyota created an environment where consumers could interact with the company’s latest fleet without feeling pressured to buy.

Do more with window displays

While it’s easy to merely place products in your windows, instead use window displays to engage customers, much like Chrome Hearts did by having an LA-based artist create an installation from brightly colored candy. The more sensory the experience, the more likely you’ll draw customers inside.

Use products as design elements

What you’re selling does not have to be confined to a shelf. Instead bring your products to life as design elements, like KITH’s use of their shoes to add textures to the walls and ceilings of their stores. This approach showcases the product as serving both form and function, allowing shoppers to see your product in an entirely new fashion.

Bring the e-store to life

Create a pop-up physical presence for your e-store to allow customers to interact with products before they buy. Online mattress retailer, Casper, recently created a series of pop-up bedrooms, allowing customers to test out mattresses and pillows. This marriage of online and physical retail experiences is integral for keeping today’s customer engaged.

Be a minimalist

In retail, less is often more. Create an engaging space by taking a minimalist approach. Hogan Boutique features a warehouse design and limited furniture to create a breathable space that focuses on their key products. Making the product the star of the show allows customers to engage with limited distraction.

Use your space to tell a story

Create a customer journey that reinforces the brand story throughout the retail space, so customers feel they’re completing an adventure, like Level Kids’ design that enchants both adults and children by making each floor tell its own story. By incorporating multi-media visual elements into the store, Level Kids engages customers across multiple senses to further strengthen their brand.

Lighting shouldn’t be an afterthought

Lighting should be a top priority in store design to enhance the retail environment and highlight top products. Because lighting can single handedly influence the mood of the shopping environment, retailers must understand how they can use lighting to shape their customer experience. Legit Sneakers House approaches lighting by using neon colors to back light their displays. This display lighting is relied upon to help illuminate the store, thus providing function while still emphasizing the product line.

Create unique product packaging

Use your product packaging to reinforce the brand image. Choose colors, fonts and imagery that creates harmony between the store and packaging designs. Country Soil uses packaging to reinforce their brand by showing how their soil can foster healthy eating habits.

Expand customer experience with virtual reality

UK retailer Topshop has been leading the way in brand engagement by utilizing VR to reach its tech-savvy Gen Z demographic who say they’re 80 percent more likely to visit a store offering VR technology. The retailer created a VR waterslide through London in their Oxford Street store where participants used a real slide in-store combined with VR to expand the experience.

Mustering up the creativity necessary to create a brand-new engaging experience that drives customers into a physical store can seem daunting, but utilizing one or two of these ideas and adapting them for your brand can yield great success. As you think about how to make your retail location more visually appealing, consider taking the time to think about how your brand can deliver upon the unexpected.

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