It’s about bringing

products and their stories to life

Pete Champion, creative strategy director at London- based design agency I-AM, reveals what the term ‘experiential retailing’ really means and why you should be looking to implement the strategy in your showroom

Q & A

Q: What does the term ‘experiential retailing’ actually mean? A: In essence, it’s a term that identifies the shift from functional and transactional shopping in physical spaces to inspirational and engaging in-store experiences that

are memorable and

rewarding, leaving a lasting impact and bond between shopper and retailer.

Q: Why is this a key strategy for retailers today? A: This is all about getting retailers to fight against the online channel by making even more of their showrooms. Experiential retail is a strategy that is key to redefining the role of a ‘showroom’. The

likes of Amazon, and other digital-savvy brands, are catering for our need for speed, attractive prices and the ease with which we get access to these products – from browsing to delivery. If we acknowledge these new consumer expectations, showrooms have to be able to offer something different, something that elevates the brand and product experience and encourages people to make a trip to the physical space. Otherwise, why would anyone bother to travel to a showroom to have an average experience, when they can do it all from the comfort of their sofa in their own home?

It’s about bringing the products, the brands and their stories to life and about highlighting to consumers how the products in the showroom – in this case kitchens and bathrooms – can enhance their lives in a more immersive and engaging way than they can online.

Q: What kind of ‘experiential’ elements should KBB retailers be looking to introduce in their showrooms? A: The question showroom retailers should be asking themselves is ‘what can I do with my retail space that I cannot do online’. What that really means is thinking about your showroom not just as a retail space but a venue. This can go beyond the literal interpretation of, if you’re a kitchen showroom you should be hosting some live cooking demos and if you’re a bathroom showroom you need to include some working taps and showers. You could, for instance, introduce a programme of events. There’s a huge conversation going on at the moment about sustainability and there’s no reason why a showroom can’t be a platform for conversations about sustainable living and water efficiency. Also, don’t forget the potential of stuff that

really makes people go ‘wow’. Experiential is about engaging all the senses so, for example, you could have an amazing, eye-catching piece of art or a beautiful chandelier in the entrance of the showroom that gives that immediate ’wow’ factor.

Live demos – the heart of the matter

Q: Do you have any other advice for independent retailers following this shift in retail? A: Look at the big brands – both inside and outside this industry – to see how they’re becoming more experiential. As a smaller enterprise, you may be more limited in what you can do in your showroom. Instead of doing exactly what they’re doing, it’s about unpicking what’s really adding value to the consumers and creating your own version of it at an independent retail level. Ikea and CP Hart are two good examples of retailers trying to draw more meaningful links with their community. Experiential retail is as much about blurring the boundaries between the elements of what you’re offering in the space as it is about how you offer those elements.

Collaboration is also a good way to approach

this. You could consider sharing your premises with other local retailers or inviting ‘pop up’ stores to join you. There’s a huge trend for hipster co-working spaces and that vibe of how start-up companies get together and collaborate. That is experiential and builds as many emotional connections with consumers as jazzy bits of digital technology can.

Don’t forget the potential of stuff that makes people go ‘wow’. You could have an eye-catching piece of art or a beautiful chandelier in the entrance of the showroom

Jonathan Coulthard, founder of handmade kitchen specialist My Fathers Heart in Sheffield, explains why having live appliances to highlight new technology in action is crucial to help customers appreciate its benefits

part of the sales and design process. If you are spending thousands of pounds on an appliance, you need to be able to see it in action first, particularly with something that is a relatively new concept, such as the Bora cooktop extraction system. Downdraft extraction needs to be seen to be fully appreciated and we insist that anyone choosing one as part of their kitchen design sees a working model first. We spend up to two years with each of our customers seeing their kitchen through the initial design stages to final completion – it’s an organic process and a major investment, with the live demonstrations of working appliances playing a key part.


Independent retailers have to offer customers a different experience from the DIY sheds and multiples and this is how you do it – by making the sales process an interactive experience.

June 2019 · kbbreview

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e hold regular cookery events and live demonstrations at our Sheffield showroom, and these are an essential

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