Is Your Brand “Experienced?”

Retailers continue to hear an “experience” will set brick and mortar retail apart from its ecommerce competitors. However, as communicators we understand how and why creating an omnichannel experience must transcend both online and offline. A complete experience will engage the consumer at all points along their purchase journey.

experiential retail - the customer journey

Three companies recently caught my attention by their use of an omnichannel communications and marketing approach.

First, my wife and I recently dropped our oldest at college 1,000 plus miles from home. Moving a child into a rather small room and determining what you need prior to move-in day is not an easy task. One prominent home goods retailer has it figured out. From in-store college checklists and online and email campaigns to a pop-up on-campus store and follow-up survey, their omnichannel marketing worked together to create a seamless experience for our family.

They even reached out via email in partnership with my daughter’s college prior to move in day about linens, pillows and accessories, but also followed the online introduction with a fully-staffed and inventoried pop-up store on the lawn near the dorms. The biggest effect? Their word-of-mouth marketing was strong as witnessed by other parents pointing us to the store. When my daughter forgot her pillow, no problem. Need coat hangers? Choose from several styles and colors. Imperative that you raise your bed to create storage space? We have just the item for you. The sales associates were helpful, eager to assist, accepted returns on site, managed the line, provided quick, digital check-out, and answered mindless parent questions. We never stepped off campus, even though there were several retailers nearby!

Second, I enjoy grocery shopping. I like wandering the store as I consider what to make for weekend dinners. One regional supermarket chain has tapped into the grocery shopping experience in Texas by creating an adventure for foodies and less experienced foodie wannabes like me. Every six weeks the company offers a different theme with new products, tastings and recipes for their shoppers—from Hatch chilies, to British culinary delights, to chocolate, wine, or all things barbecue. They even have themed specialty classes at their cooking schools such as an Alice in Wonderland tea party for their British Invasion theme. They entice shoppers with store décor and local advertising intertwined with culinary experiences like toppings and olive bars, and even a specialty mushroom table with varieties not found anywhere else in Texas.

Third, by way of the podcast Reinventing Retail, I discovered a direct mail marketer who leverages online analytics to develop a targeted direct mail campaign. For example, if you are shopping for a mattress, visit a mattress store’s website and within a few days the mattress brand will send you a personalized creative direct mail piece. Creating an experience in your mailbox (an uncrowded space in today’s online, app-based, world) by personalizing an offer relevant to you and your current shopping interests. Take a listen to determine for yourself whether this once heavily-used marketing channel is ready to make a steady and targeted comeback.

All three of these brands put the shopper at the center and look for ways to engage, amplify and delight consumers along their purchasing journey. Connect with me here to share your consumer experiences as we continue to navigate and analyze the retail sector’s latest trends.

Ketchum clients have trusted this communications leader for strategic and creative counsel since 2004 when he joined Ketchum. Today, as partner, managing director and portfolio leader, Peters leverages his 27 years of public relations experience in the ever-evolving retail sector by working with client teams to drive feet to store (brick and mortar) and clicks to sites (e-tail). Engagement ranging from product and brand launches, media relations, franchisee & employee engagement, store openings, corporate reputation & crisis management and path-to-purchase messaging.

Peters is a retail expert, having collaborated on projects in grocery, food service and dining, QSR, general merchandise stores, convenience and gas stations, home improvement, health and personal care, electronics and e-commerce.

Peters is a self-acclaimed barbeque connoisseur and chef. He and his wife do their best to raise their teens in Dallas, along with a wily five-year-old Catahoula hound dog.