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Experiential Retail

Note from the editor

2020 started with executives and industry experts pointing to brick and mortar as the next great innovation for retailers. A slew of in-store technology advancements, retail focused entertainment, interactive displays and hands-on exhibits had revitalized one of retailers' oldest tricks: connecting with customers in stores. 

Retailers as diverse as storied department store Nordstrom and cutting-edge retail concepts like Showfields, Area15, Enjoy and Neighborhood Goods alike were touting their in-store advancements and a new wave of digitally native direct-to-consumer brands were expanding their physical footprints.

And then it was March. 

Almost overnight, retailers lost access to a critical customer connection point as the pandemic forced mass closures across the U.S., albeit mostly temporary ones. The arrival of the coronavirus in the U.S. changed the conversation around how consumers and retailers engage in stores. Gone are the in-store samples, the beauty try on displays, the nap stations and a host of other high-touch, in-store experiences. 

But retailers are a resourceful bunch. The industry may be in a period where in-store experiences are sidelined in favor of BOPIS, e-commerce and other socially distant interactions, but the need for retailers to connect with customers hasn't gone away. And experiences are still a key part of that. 

In this trendline Retail Dive explores examples of retailers who have pivoted during the pandemic to evoke in-store experiences in digital environments and how the industry is re-envisioning the customer experience for the foreseeable future.

Liza Casabona Managing Editor

Please don't touch: The future of experiential retail

In the short term, brands pivoted online to engage consumers when the pandemic hit. Longer term retailers may have to reimagine high-touch services.

Brick and mortar's next chapter

The pandemic is forcing retailers to finally define just what their stores are for.

How COVID-19 boosted QVC, HSN and livestreaming

As the veteran telecommerce networks adapt to the challenges of the pandemic, other brands are catching up to the future of livestreaming.

Why Madison Reed launched a new product in a pandemic

The company's online business "exploded" as the coronavirus hit the U.S., but its men's line had already been in the works for months.

How two DTC brands found success in the midst of crisis

While much of retail struggled to survive, intimates brand Knix and bridal business Azazie saw sales spikes as more shoppers were pushed online.

Neiman Marcus virtual hub recreates high touch experience for customers wary of indoor shopping

How the pandemic altered DTC's relationship with brick and mortar

As e-commerce became competitive, digitally native brands opened stores. But the coronavirus forced some to pause plans and seek alternatives.

Experiential Retail in 2020 and Beyond

The industry may be in a period where in-store experiences are sidelined in favor of BOPIS, e-commerce and other socially distant interactions, but the need for retailers to connect with customers hasn't gone away.

included in this trendline
  • How the pandemic altered DTC's relationship with brick and mortar
  • How Neiman Marcus recreated a virtual high touch experience for customers wary of indoor shopping
  • What retailers are doing on a creative level to adapt to the new normal
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.