Meta’s new retail store in California. Source: Meta

Physical Stores Are Transforming Beyond Sales

Online shopping is more convenient. Both for consumers and companies.

But it has its drawbacks.

Even with fast shipping, it is difficult and tiring to try out products and ensure you have the right product.

Even with fast chat support, it can be challenging to get the correct answers.

And with a more complex product like Virtual Reality Hardware, a physical experience is crucial for a digital product.

Meta knows this, and it’s why they’ll soon open a retail store in California to showcase their “Portal video calling hub, Quest 2 virtual reality goggles and Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses”, as Bloomberg reports.

New Times, New Role

The role of the store is changing.

Rather than being a source of shopping, the physical store is becoming increasingly a place to discover and compare products and “enjoyment” as Morning Consult concludes in their survey.

Source: Morning Consult

The physical store is crucial for brand-building. And this will further drive the primary focus on experience and then actual shopping second.

Your physical store is not a place to store products on endless shelves.

It’s a way to introduce people to your brand universe.

The physical store is crucial for brand-building. And this will further drive the primary focus on experience, and then actual shopping second.

Your physical store is not a place to store products on endless shelves.

It’s a way to introduce people to your brand universe.

Where the Gym Meets the Store

Take fitness brand Lululemon.

They opened an experiential store in Chicago which also functions as a gym and meditation room.

Each room shows how and why people should use their products. They have a strong emotional appeal and introduce potential customers to their universe and products.

And of course, it is more convenient to try out clothes in the store, right next to the gym.

It gives people a reason to visit the store repeatedly, and then visitors also have the option to buy their clothes.

A Sensory Brand-Building Experience

Timberland also uses its precious square meters to build its brand.

Throughout the store, they share an essential brand message on sustainability.

Customers can experience how the brand is taking action to decrease its environmental impact.

It’s possible to drop off Timberland footwear, clothing, and accessories as part of its Timberloop program.

“Whether we talk to our consumers in Europe or in New York or Tokyo, they come to the store with the need to not only buy products; they come to the store to engage in your brand beyond the product.”
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Drieke Leenknegt, VP of global marketing and CMO at Timberland, told Retail Brew

Long Live the Store!

Stores have taken on a new role in business.

It’s more about brand-building than direct sales.

And this requires a new perspective and a company’s physical dimensions.

For further reading, I highly recommend the article series by Morning Brew, “What’s in store for stores?” which dives deep into the future of physical shopping and stores.

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