This pandemic has shaken up the retail industry and the way shoppers consume goods. Why do you think people will return to physical shopping when the pandemic is over?
Physical retail offers so many things that online can’t – and shoppers have missed out on these key elements over the past year. Shopping in-store offers the ability to create meaningful relationships between shopper and retailer. The element of ‘try before you buy’ helps customers find the perfect fit and eliminates the frustrating need to return. And in-store shopping offers spaces to experience and discover something new about yourself and the world around you.
Why is it important for customers to have these ‘experiences’? Is offering the right merchandise not enough?
Retail conversions may be transactional moments, but the act of shopping is a therapeutic experience, one in which customers can escape into the story and lifestyle of a brand, and one where they often find themselves elated with each point of unexpected discovery. Enter: retail therapy/play. Take, for example, the luxury brand Tiffany & Co. and their pursuit to foster relationships with a wider demographic. Last year they launched what they dubbed “Style Studios,” a place where customers could escape into the Covent Garden, a space of interactive play. Everyday objects such as plant pots, pens, and straws were displayed in the signature “Tiffany blue” surrounding a personalization bar offering self-styling and a Tiffany fragrance vending machine. These are moments of escape into the soul of a brand, something that could only truly transpire during an in-person retail experience.
Which retailers have done a good job of utilizing their storefront as a billboard?
Nike will always be a leader to me when it comes to leveraging their stores, especially with their localized approach at their community stores. In home, I think what Restoration Hardware has built is truly a destination and organic marketing tool, consistently putting the brand on the map in NYC. You can take in the city views in their vineyard like rooftop garden, have a glass of wine, sit with an expert for design services or simply browse in awe. There is also real value in what a "marketplace" store environment like Showfields delivers, a truly experiential environment to discover new brands, capsule collection launches, all from an interactive story driven point of view.
Continually pushing the boundaries of experiential retail, Melissa Gonzalez is an award-winning innovator, seasoned visionary, and brand storyteller. She is the CEO of The Lionesque Group, an MG2 company, pioneering the integration of physical environments and cutting-edge technologies to help companies such as Purple, Nordstrom, and Burrow foster foundational consumer engagement and evolve their offerings. In 2017 she led the invention of IRL, in real life, with the Brookfield Properties team as an early mover in creating turnkey retail platforms connecting real estate developers and leasing teams with some of the fastest-growing direct-to-consumer brands in the industry.
A passionate mentor and strategist, Melissa works hand-in-hand with clients to understand their greatest aspirations. She leads creative teams to deliver authentic solutions from concept to completion, helping clients achieve their ultimate vision. In 2020, her work with Burrow House was honored by Fast Company’s Innovation by Design for Retail Environments. In 2019 she was honored with ‘Women In Design’ award of the year by Contract Magazine and was recognized as one of LinkedIn and design:retail’s “Top 10 Retail Design Influencers of the Year”. When she’s not recording podcasts or dreaming-up innovative pop-up spaces, Melissa can be found seeking inspiration in unexpected places, like skydiving 10,000 feet above ground.