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From Transactional to Transformational: What is experiential retail, and how can you incorporate it into your commercial development project marketing?

Updated: Apr 4

Experiential Retail

Experiential retail, or "retailtainment," describes any experience a shopper has in-store or online that stretches beyond the traditional transactional relationship. It’s rapidly emerging as a key differentiator for brands, highlighting the growing importance of providing engaging and memorable experiences for customers.

When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. Additionally, 71% of consumers expect personalized interactions.


It’s no doubt that we’ve seen retail trends swing to various ends of the spectrum in recent years. Online shopping and curbside pick-up became the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now we’re seeing more in-person retail shopping activities returning, just in a different way. With the convenience of e-commerce, retailers are being pushed to redefine the role of brick-and-mortar stores in the customer journey, placing an emphasis on creating unique, non-replicable offerings. So, how can these physical stores stand out and offer more than online shopping? Through experiential retail, or retailtainment. It distinguishes itself by crafting immersive and personalized experiences. Prioritizing customer engagement, it aims for memorable, multi-sensory interactions that captivate customers and even inspire them to share these moments on social media.

Simply put, the future of retail is moving from transactional to transformational.

Pinpointing what unique value your brand can provide customers sets the stage for building a distinctive experience that sets your brick-and-mortar operation apart. This article explores the advantages of experiential retail, offering tips to integrate into your commercial development project marketing today!

Creates an immersive and shareable experience

Customers not only immerse themselves in the showcased products but also engage in more meaningful interactions, fostering connections that are crucial for building customer loyalty, as it communicates authenticity and relatability. You may even go a step further and say that customers feel empowered to make a genuine choice to purchase something given their deeper connection to the retail surroundings at that given moment.

customer engagement

Prioritizes customer engagement over sales

Sales remains the goal, the primary focus is on curating a distinctly on-brand experience from the moment customers enter. The customer not only buys the product(s), but takes photos, stays and visits longer (longer than they would in a typical transactional environment), and talks about it for months after. By prioritizing engagement and offering quality products with friendly service, businesses can garner customer loyalty and significantly enhance their buying power.

Nurtures communities

Physical spaces possess the unique ability to bring people together in ways that websites or apps can’t. As a brick-and-mortar store, leverage this strength by exploring ways to collaborate with other businesses, and the community building will follow. Can you hold events or classes? Are there spaces or elements in the location that would encourage people to meet and get together? What about collaborating with other businesses?

A few of 30|90’s favorite examples

Rachel Ledet, founder and owner of 30|90 Marketing, just returned from a trip to Manhattan. She left with a refreshed and ultra-inspired perspective on the future of retail. This wasn’t Rachel’s first time shopping with her daughters, though. The difference this time? The experience. Rachel’s favorites were the M&M World in Midtown, and the Color Factory in Soho.

color factory in soho

Olivia Matthews, Marketing Director at 30|90 Marketing, was able to relate greatly to Rachel’s inspiration. Prior to moving to New Orleans, Olivia worked at a Real Estate Private Equity firm in the heart of Rockefeller Center, where she saw firsthand the retail experience shift and adapt throughout the various seasons. Olivia’s favorite is the Anthropologie Store Window Displays. Impactful, inventive, and highly aesthetic – the store displays are integral to the Anthropologie experience. Erika Lavinia, the mind behind the magic, says “We want to help create spaces that our customers want to live within.”

The bottom line? Experiences sell.

Experiences have a selling power of their own. Experiential retail, when executed effectively, goes beyond mere product transactions, offering brands the chance to support their customer community in unique ways and establish themselves as more than just a product.

The Future of Retail

Looking ahead, the future of retail is intricately tied to the evolving landscape of digital communication. Technology integration in both online and in-store environments will play a pivotal role. To stay competitive and meet consumer demands for immersive experiences, businesses must stay agile, embracing digital communication advancements and integrating them into experiential retail strategies.

Get in touch with our team to learn more about how we can help you and your development scale up to new heights and stand out from the pack!

Real Estate Marketing

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