Experiential Retail and Immersive Retail: Making Shopping More Engaging

Experiential Retail and Immersive Retail: Two Trends Transforming Shopping

Experiential retail and immersive retail are making shopping more engaging for both in-store and online customers. Experiential retail enhances in-store shopping by providing a more enjoyable atmosphere for experiencing products. Immersive retail improves online and in-store shopping by providing more realistic product previews. Together these technologies are delivering better in-store and virtual shopping experiences to customers and helping retailers make more sales. In this article, we’ll explore what experiential retail and immersive retail are, provide some examples, and explain why consumer preferences for these sales models are shaping the future of shopping.

Main Takeaways From This Article:

  1. Experiential retail enhances in-store shopping by providing an enjoyable atmosphere for experiencing products, often by using augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR).
  2. Immersive retail provides online and in-store shoppers with more realistic product previews by using technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality (MR).
  3. Experiential retail and immersive retail appeal to customers by offering novelty, interactivity, and emotional engagement.
  4. Brands can leverage experiential retail and immersive shopping models by adopting 3D eCommerce tools.

What Is Experiential Retail?

Experiential retail is an in-store marketing strategy that makes products more appealing by placing them in an enjoyable in-store shopping atmosphere where they can be experienced interactively. To make the shopping experience more experientially engaging, retailers use techniques such as playing music, displaying art, offering food, and providing virtual reality product previews. This enhances the traditional shopping experience by promoting hands-on product interaction in an aesthetically appealing environment, designed to engage shoppers’ senses more fully and encourage hands-on product trials.

Three Experiential Retail Examples

Experiential retail strategies often use technology to let customers interact with products in more engaging ways. Three illustrations of this approach are pop-up shops, interactive displays, and themed environments.

1. Pop-Up Shops

Pop-up shops are temporary stores, often found in malls, which use attention-getting marketing strategies to attract customers. Technology, such as virtual reality, frequently helps promote pop-up shops. For example, fashion retailers may provide virtual fitting rooms that let shoppers see avatars simulating how they’d look wearing clothes and accessories.

2. Interactive Displays

Interactive displays let customers use touch screens to customize product specs in real-time. For example, Nike’s “Nike By You” kiosks allow customers to design and personalize their shoes. This promotes customer interaction with products and delivers a more customized shopping experience.

3. Themed Environments

Themed environments use a unifying subject, look, and mood to cultivate an enjoyable, interactive shopping experience. For example, the Harry Potter flagship store in New York City includes a wand shop, an interactive Ministry of Magic phone box, and a virtual reality experience that transports customers to Hogwarts. This transforms the shopping experience into a theme park style of adventure.

Three Benefits of Experiential Retail

By making shopping more enjoyable for customers, experiential retail strategies provide retailers with several important benefits, including:

  1. Experiential retail strategies create an aesthetically appealing atmosphere that promotes product interaction, increasing customer engagement.
  2. The novelty of experiential retail shopping stands out in customers’ minds, encouraging better brand recall.
  3. By inviting customers to try out products in an enjoyable atmosphere, experiential retail strategies promote higher sales.

These benefits help make experiential shopping experiences profitable for brands that deploy them.

What Is Immersive Retail?

Immersive retail is a marketing strategy that uses technology to provide customers with realistic digital previews of products prior to purchase. 3D product visualization technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality allow customers to experience lifelike digital simulations of product ownership. These technologies can deliver an immersive online shopping experience to eCommerce customers, and they also can assist customers in brick-and-mortar stores.

Three Immersive Shopping Examples

Immersive shopping strategies may employ various technologies, including VR, AR, and MR. Here are three examples of an immersive approach in action:

1. Virtual Reality Experiences

VR can support immersive shopping experiences by enabling customers to experience virtual try-ons of products or digital previews of how products would look in their homes or yard. For example, VNTANA’s virtual reality technology allows customers to visualize how furniture or home decor items would look in their homes before making a purchase. The VNTANA platform lets customers use a mobile device or virtual reality headset to see products in their homes and make real-time adjustments. This delivers a personalized, engaging shopping experience that boosts customer confidence in their purchase.

2. Augmented Reality Displays

Augmented reality serves as another important tool for delivering immersive experiences. An example comes from the furniture seller IKEA. The IKEA Place web AR app lets customers use their smartphone cameras to overlay digital images of furniture in the real world. By bringing products right into shoppers’ homes, the app provides a personalized AR experience that promotes engagement and purchases.

3. Interactive Technology

While some immersive strategies use smartphones or VR headsets, others use specialized interactive technology to deliver virtual, augmented, or mixed-reality experiences. For example, Memomi has developed a smart mirror product that can be used to sell products such as makeup. The mirror lets customers try on different makeup options virtually by using hand gestures or voice commands to make selections. The mirror can remember customer preferences and make personalized recommendations, standing in for a human sales representative.

Three Benefits of Immersive Retail Experiences

By making pre-purchase product experiences more realistic, the immersive retail experience offers several important benefits to retailers, including:

  1. Helping shoppers make more informed purchase decisions, leading to increased customer satisfaction and sales.
  2. Reducing return rates, boosting profit margins.
  3. Promoting higher customer loyalty and repeat business.

These benefits make customers happier with their purchases, helping brands make more sales.



Why People Like Experiential and Immersive Retail Experiences

Experiential and immersive retail marketing methods appeal to customers. Shoppers enjoy the novelty of using new technology to experience products. They appreciate the ability to experience more realistic product previews. They invest more emotional engagement in personalized product experiences.

These factors help account for the growing popularity of experiential and immersive technologies. A 2021 HubSpot survey of marketing industry trends found that 29% of marketers used experiential marketing, 51% found it one of their most effective promotional tools, and 83% planned to continue investing in experiential strategies in 2022. HubSpot anticipates that experiential marketing will continue to grow in importance in 2023.

The Future of Retail: Embracing Experiential and Immersive Models

The growing usage of experiential and immersive strategies makes these technologies vital for the future of retail. As consumers come to expect more engaging experiences, fulfillment of these expectations will become an increasingly important competitive differentiator. Brands can get ahead of the curve tomorrow by adopting experiential and immersive technology today.

The VNTANA platform makes it easy for brands to begin using 3D product visualization to deliver shoppers experiential and immersive shopping experiences. VNTANA lets you upload existing 3D files in bulk or create new 3D models with help from our team. Our software optimizes your files to make them easy to share with your internal team, retailers, or customers. Shoppers can see your products in immersive environments on your website, virtual showroom, eCommerce platform, or social media profiles. Schedule a free demo today to see how 3D visualization can help you deliver customers more engaging shopping experiences.