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News The Experience Economy

Retailers, partners, and influencers from all over the world recently gathered at NRF’s Big Show to hear insights from leading experts. Through all the messaging, one thing was evident: a focus on the consumer is essential in today’s competitive market. Whether you are a digital-first disruptor or an established legacy brand, an exceptional experience is more central than ever before in driving business success. "The best retailers have innovated, so that the physical store has the upper hand again," Ron Johnson, CEO of tech home service company Enjoy and widely considered the visionary behind the Apple store, told a keynote audience.

Here are our top takeaways –

Shopping is Social - The best way to build brand loyalty and advocacy is by establishing deep connections over shared values, thereby building a sense of community. While word of mouth still plays a huge role in a retailer’s success, the speed at which these stories are shared over social media has been a game changer. Brand is no longer well defined or dictated. It’s carefully curated for the social world to develop. Influencers play a crucial role when it comes to shopping decisions and their reach continues to grow. By acknowledging the power of influencers, brands are innovating to remain relevant in the future and are exploring to create a space that connects both the digital and the physical world.

Blurring the Lines Between Channels - A prominent example of providing a best-in-class experience is Nordstrom. Often heralded for its innovative concepts, the brand has managed to stay a step ahead of its competitors by acknowledging that part of excellent customer service is to not limit where and when the customer can shop. Brands like Nordstrom are proof that online and offline retail business can not only co-exist, they can benefit each other.

Connections with Consumers - Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson discussed the role of shared experiences and connection in the modern-day retail environment and noted that “the pursuit of profit is not in conflict with the pursuit of doing good.” Johnson spoke about helping customers battle growing global issues such as human loneliness and mental illness by creating environments in which humans interact with each other rather than digital devices. One brand taking interaction to the next level is CAMP. Designed to inspire and engage families, CAMP combines merchandise, play, and media throughout its stores to create an enriching and fun experience.

Physical Retail is Alive and Kicking - While many digitally native retailers have either struggled to see a profit or failed to make meaningful connections with their target customers, a new found appreciation for physical retail is evident. When it comes to customer acquisition “physical retail is more effective than a billboard”, according to Matt Alexander Co-founder and CEO of Neighborhood Goods, a brick-and-mortar curator of brands. Digitally native brands such as UNTUCKit, LeTote, Poshmark, and Rent the Runway spoke about their strategy to move into brick and mortar as statistics have shown an overall average 37% increase in digital traffic when opening a physical store.

Now more than ever retail is retail regardless of where a sale occurs or how a product is delivered. As technology innovation changes at the speed of light, retailers are working diligently to build up the customer experience, both online and at brick and mortar. At the intersection of the digital and physical retail space is where the experiential moments are merging.

Our Business Development Director, Mike Pothast, had the opportunity to see firsthand how these NYC brands are using their understanding of consumers changing behaviors to enhance the customer experience. From Hudson Yards representation of the state of retail today to Chelsea's iconic retailers, it was certainly a tour for the senses.

Hudson Yards represents the state of retail today Innovation and reinvention

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