Today’s customers want more than just products and services from a brand, they want experiences too. And the better those experiences are, the more likely it is that they will stay loyal customers and become brand advocates. This is why CX has become the new battleground on which brands compete. Retailtainment is a specialised and increasingly key element of customer experience for both online and physical retailers and here, we take a closer look at what it is and why it has become such an important phenomenon.
What is retailtainment?
A mashup of the words retail and entertainment, retailtainment is about offering customers immersive brand experiences that go above and beyond making shopping quick and easy. It’s also more than just entertaining customers, it’s about giving them enjoyable and memorable experiences. One of the reasons why online stores need to get up to speed with retailtainment is that it is already becoming an established part of the high street. After years of decline, many bricks and mortar stores are repurposing their spaces for retailtainment in order to entice shoppers away from the internet and back to the high street. These stores are actively sacrificing some of their retail floor space to create new areas where customers can have in-person experiences that they just can’t get online.
The Adidas mega-store, for example, has modernised its changing rooms by installing digital interfaces from which shoppers can ask for outfits in different colours and sizes. The House of Vans London store has gone even further, putting on films and gigs and even building an indoor skate park. Shoppers at the Dr. Martens Camden store, meanwhile, can make use of virtual reality and GIF booths and even have their DM boots and shoes customised in-store while they wait. Elsewhere we are seeing new cafés, author events, tasting sessions, fashion shows, art exhibitions, interactive product displays and hologram meet and greet characters. All of these help brands make in-store shopping a better experience for their customers.
Online stores, of course, can’t provide the same forms of retailtainment as physical stores, however, they are able to use the modern technologies available to them to deliver digital experiences like online gigs, special videos, radio shows, augmented reality, gaming, themed pop-up shops and live shopping events. And with new technologies, like voice assistants, personal shopping apps and live stream broadcasting being available, the opportunities are almost endless. What you choose to do depends on what matches your brand and your audience’s interests.
A great example of a brand that puts online retailtainment into action is the LA footwear store, Tom’s. It did a promotion where for every new pair of shoes bought in the US, it donated another pair to children in South America. It then used virtual reality to ‘transport’ buyers in the US to South America where they could see the children benefitting from the promotion. In doing this, the brand offered customers an immersive experience that enabled them to feel good about their purchase and which emphasised that the brand had the same social values as its customers.
Virgin Mobile, meanwhile, creates individual videos for customers in which they get to see their monthly mobile and WiFi data usage and number of text messages sent. This is displayed as a Pacman style game, complete with 80’s style game sounds and design, where the character travels around the Pacman board, gaining points for the amount of data they have used. It’s a much more enjoyable experience than seeing a dull statement.
The aim of creating such experiences is to engage the customer on an emotional level. In other words, to make them feel valued, good about themselves and happy. It’s a step forward from just offering personalised recommendations and is more about providing highly relevant, engaging content, in the format users want and which leaves them with a sense of joy after they have shopped with you.
The importance of infrastructure
With retailtainment likely to become something that customers expect from online stores, retailers wishing to provide it will need to ensure that their web hosting is up to the task. Hosting live stream events, uploading videos, deploying virtual reality tools and so forth is a move that requires both additional online storage and greater use of resources like bandwidth, CPU and RAM.
Upgrading to a larger hosting solution, like a dedicated server, is one option for doing this, however, the cost is significant and companies may find that many of the resources they have purchased are not fully utilised all of the time. If you only put on big events with big audiences once a week, the server you are paying for may be underused for the majority of the time.
A better solution is to use the cloud. Cloud hosting offers a capital expenditure-free way to acquire enough storage space and enables you to scale resources up and down on-demand, ensuring you only pay for them when needed, such as when hosting a retailtainment event. This helps you keep a tighter rein on your budget while giving you the capacity to offer the experiences your customers expect.
Retailtainment is a specialised form of CX that aims to provide enjoyable experiences for customers. In today’s CX-led marketplace, being able to provide such experiences is vital to stave off competition and to acquire and retain new customers. While retailtainment comes in many guises, for online stores, the experience is a digital one and this requires brands to have the necessary infrastructure, like cloud, in place to deliver it.