As 2022 began, many retailers were somewhat optimistic that they could move past the challenges they had faced in the prior two years. Since then, several winds of change have combined to make the market more challenging than ever – high inflation, a war, fuel and raw materials issues plus labour shortages. Despite this, there is resilience in the industry with lots of potential for 2023 and beyond.
Consumer behaviour is driving innovation and new technologies are enabling more immersive experiences. Significantly more people are still ordering and eating food at home than before the pandemic and that has become ingrained in their shopper behaviour. Online shopping provides convenience, optimal pricing, and oftentimes more selection and options than traditional retail stores.
With such service at your fingertips, the design of a physical store is now more important than ever to offer genuinely exciting customer experiences.
Bricks-and-mortar stores are prime to provide value as they reinforce a customer's relationship with the brand. Immersive, pleasurable and dare we say Instagramable experiences aka “retailtainment”, can bring the brand experience alive in a way that digital means can’t.
A trip to Colombia has revealed how two supermarket brands, Merka Orángico and Éxito WOW, have adapted to this new era of the consumer experience. Elevating their stores beyond the functional to become favourites.
Éxito WOW brings together the best in physical and virtual retail, integrating all the brand’s digital channels and services to offer a truly holistic omni-channel customer experience. Éxito Wow plays in another league!
Consolidated revenue for the quarter reached $4.6 billion in the first quarter of 2022, representing a growth of 20.5% over the same period in 2021. This result is attributed to the positive performance of the retail business and the contribution of complementary businesses, mainly real estate. The Interstore Schweitzer Collection recently ranked Éxito WOW one of the world’s top 50 food stores, and we can see why.
Their commitment to innovation and technological transformation is evident throughout. A smart shopping cart allows customers to view recipes as they shop, taking the route to buy the ingredients for them. Self-service functions such as QR codes and PSE payments all lend to the seamless and frictionless transactions modern customers come to expect. The brand’s social robot named ‘Otti’ manifests their phygital positioning, personalising the customer experience by offering help that bridges the physical and digital store.
Éxito WOW clarifies its brand positioning on collective responsibility through consistent communications across the store. This hierarchy leads with robust high-level statements in key hallmarks. Theatrical moments are still happening but in a more purposeful way. Storytelling graphics help make the in-store experience more authentic and meaningful
In a recent interview with Carlos Mario Giraldo, president of Grupo Éxito. He highlighted “Omnichannel also allows us to clearly identify that there are online customers, mainly young, others only offline, mostly older adults who prefer to visit a warehouse and mixed customers: on and off, with very interesting data. It was also shown to serve the last mile segment and changed those rules of the game”. “Sales on WhatsApp are also growing a lot. We have a sales pilot and a very important work with Facebook through a chatbot that redirects to the warehouse wherever the person delivers their order and is being very positive”.
In-store destinations provide moments of discovery that are led by exciting theatre such as the custom cake station and humidor, or convenience offer such as paired product fridges and takeaway market kitchen. With such an expansive offering, the store design allows for a level of distinction for the categories using variants of standard materials, lighting, comms to keep the customer inspired, engaged through their journey. This zoning provides a further platform for customers to engage with expert staff members, allowing to make informed decisions which builds future loyalty.
A progressive retail brand Merka Orgánico is a centre of healthy experiences, nutrition and well-being. All stocked products are organic, handmade, natural, biodegradable, recyclable or compostable. Centered around a premium Italian gastronomy experience, their new 2000 sqm store in Medellín boasts a wide array of high quality foodie destinations from a fruit pantry and gelateria to an artisan pasta factory and wine bar. Each destination is borne from a clear mission: to offer healthy and environmentally friendly cuisine, using traditional Italian techniques and sourcing local organic products.
We are Different. We carefully select every product that we are offering, guaranteeing that it has a positive impact, either to your health or the environment”
Authentic brand storytelling is more important than ever, as the retail shopping experience has become about more than just browsing and purchasing products. Merka Orgánico uses the power of storytelling to showcase their values to connect and win with like-minded, conscious customers. The fusion of Italian and Colombian culture is the cohesive narrative that weaves throughout the store experience from the real and honest material selection to the understated comms that still manages to feel accessible to all demographics.
The desire to return to physical retail is evident across the globe. In the United States, retailers credited customers desire for “treasure-hunting” experiences as a reason for strong post-lockdown sales. Even with the massive shift towards online shopping, the physical store remains the best place for customers to experience a brand. However, the store environment should align with the change in post-pandemic expectations. More experiential stores, with more inventive and unusual décor, and better support for omnichannel customers are key to do this.
At TapCreative we design retail brand experiences that challenge convention, disrupt categories, and drive brand growth, enabling you to connect with your customer in more meaningful ways.
Gemma Ní Maoltuile is the Business Development Director of TapCreative.
She helps brands realise their ambition by understanding their needs and identifying opportunities.
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