Welcome to Conversational Commerce, the podcast where we break down the biggest retail news and trends with executives, thought leaders and the Retail Dive team. You can check out all our episodes here and listen on iTunes or Stitcher.
The experience economy is nothing new — people have been talking about it since at least 1998.
So why is "experience" still such a big industry buzzword? And why are most retail experiences still so mediocre at best?
In 2017, the industry felt the shock of a record number of bankruptcies and a wave of store closures. To some, it's a frightening signal of the apocalypse. To others, it's a necessary evil — a right-sizing that will continue until the industry finds its sweet spot where the only stores that exist are ones consumers actually want to visit.
But the bar is higher than ever to convince shoppers it's worth their time and effort to actually head to a store. Brands and retailers are being forced to rethink the purpose of physical locations and 2018 will be a year of big investments in the physical channel — whether it's Target rolling out more small-format concepts, The RealReal dabbling in pop-up shops or Sephora playing up interactive and informational technology.
Looking ahead, worthwhile stores will have immersive experiences and more extreme curation, Lauren Bitar, director of Retail Consulting at RetailNext, told Retail Dive on this edition of the podcast. "Before, if you wanted to buy a song, you had to buy the whole album. Now we can just buy the song that we want and people are looking at brands like that," she said. "They don't necessarily want to shop the entire lifestyle."
We discuss how to track in-store success, avoid the distraction of shiny penny technology and make stores fun. Sit back, relax and listen. You can stream the episode below or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.