Retailers Offer Solutions – Not Just Items – to Enhance Brand

Meghan Mucciarelli

If current happenings at AT&T are any indication, retailers are more focused on creating a woman experiences smartphone before she purchases it“retailtainment” setup than ever before. According to a Businessweek article, the telecom giant is unveiling a new store design that closely mirrors the layout of the Apple Store.

“Retailtainment” is how the tech sector refers to a pod-like, austere setup that shuns traditional retail staples like cash registers. Mobile devices facilitate the exchange of goods and services instead.

The impetus behind the change was to build a store around the customer experience – streamlining and transforming the way consumers interact with the brand. It’s less about products and more about an overall goal to personalize interactions and engender customer loyalty. New elements include a “connected experience zone” to test out different solutions, a “community zone” to compare notes and collaborate with on-site experts, and an “explore zone” to test individual products and features.

AT&T’s retail outlet redesign speaks to a trend uncovered by TechValidate in a survey of 69 SAP techv4retail customers. When asked what the biggest opportunities are for retailers in 2013 and beyond, the majority (62%) voted for “evolving customer experience to drive customer loyalty and revenue.”

According to an article about AT&T’s redesign, research has shown that customers who visit physical retail stores want to be “rewarded” for their trip in the form of individualized attention, an inviting atmosphere, and optimized hands-on trials with the latest technology. Basically, they want to have fun – and are thus the source of inspiration for the “retailtainment” approach.

AT&T and other tech companies believe that by providing a brick-and-mortar retail experience that goes beyond looking at price tags and waiting in line, they can solidify customer loyalty and generate more revenue. The focus is on a set of technologies and services and how they can improve consumers’ lives, not just on selling an iPhone and an accompanying case.

According to a recent Forbes article, a CEI survey reveals that 86% of customers will pay more for a better overall experience – but only 1% of customers actually feel that their expectations are consistently met. The article concludes that as a business you must “differentiate yourself based on the experience you deliver to customers; not on the products you sell.”

Indeed, by making it about interactivity and solutions instead of just products, retailers can customize an experience that speaks to a brand promise rather than a bottom line. This puts the customer experience front and center, encouraging intimate interactions that build loyalty and ultimately increase profits.

Find out more about how mobile technology is changing the customer experience, in-store engagement, and retail strategies.