73% of UK shoppers would spend more time and money in stores that offer up experiences, research from RetailEXPO reveals

Mixed use retail, which offers up a blend of experience-led leisure activities and transactional shopping, is key to enhancing customer experience and driving business performance in the era of new retail, the latest report from RetailEXPO reveals.

Original research of 2,000 UK consumers in the ‘ONE VISION: how to re-energise retail in 2019 and beyond’ report from RetailEXPO showed that three quarters (73%) would spend more time and money in stores that offer up in-store experiences as well as just product, demonstrating the changing role of bricks-and-mortar when it comes to delivering customer experience (CX) in-store.

With over two thirds (68%) of consumers saying they now wanted stores to offer experiences, services or leisure activities, where they could spend leisure time as well as browsing and buying products, the trend towards retailtainment continues to grow.  Retailers such as Hobbycraft, which offers up crafting lessons in-store, Sweaty Betty, which runs free weekly fitness classes and JD Sports’ in-store DJ sets, have already showcased how retail businesses can capitalise on the draw of experiential retail to drive footfall.  

Two thirds (66%) of shoppers would visit a retailer for its food and beverage (F&B) offer, including in-store cafés, bars and restaurants, while cookery tastings, wellness classes and music events would draw 37%, 15% and 14% into store respectively.

However, while format of the store has shifted towards the ability to deliver experiences and retail theatre – prompting retailers such as John Lewis offering staff acting classes – consumers still had have traditional views of where store staff added the most value in their shopping encounters.

The top five areas where consumers perceived that store staff added value to the CX in-store were: store navigation – showing me where to find products (51%); friendliness – where staff were happy to engage in conversation as opposed to focusing on making the sale (45%); taking payments at the tills (37%); showing genuine passion for the products or services the retailer offers (35%); assisting with out of stocks and ordering them online for the customer (27%). 

Matt Bradley, event director at RetailEXPO, commented: “Digital transformation, store restructuring and resizing, the move to service-led, experiential retailing, and the need to innovate and compete with not just other retailers – but other entertainment, leisure and hospitality providers – illustrates a complex path ahead for the industry.  In support of all this change and complexity, retailers must consider any number of new innovations, formats, partnerships, or alternative business processes.   Joined-up thinking is required at every decision point in order to deliver the retail experiences required to realise the demands of new era retail.”