Four ways to engage holiday shoppers beyond Black Friday weekend

Deena Amato-McCoy
SPECS Program Director
Deena Amato-McCoy profile picture
Woman in snow with shopping bags

Retailers that deliver memorable in-store experiences this holiday season will stay on shoppers’ “nice lists” well into the new year.

Innovative concepts, from store design to technology, are influencing the next wave of physical retail experiences. Learn what it takes to design a successful experiential store at the upcoming SPECS 2020 conference, March 15-17, at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas.

Experiential retail concepts are so important that they are encouraging 90% of shoppers to make in-store purchases this holiday season, according to data from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Additionally, 19% of consumers said they will shop more in store this year than they did last year.

"Our annual ‘Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey’ once again shows that consumers are not only optimistic about the upcoming holiday season, but also continue to favor physical stores when shopping for gifts,” said Tom McGee, ICSC president and CEO. “Consumers expect convenience and experience when shopping…” 

Keeping these pre-requisites in mind, companies are blending immersive experiences and innovation to drive repeat visits throughout the holiday season — and beyond.

Here are a few strategies being used to grab holiday shoppers’ attention:

• Pop-up stores. There may be no better time to introduce a pop-up store than during the holidays. To stand out from the many pop-ups being introduced this year, DSW is putting a unique twist on its holiday store. The DSWGives Do Good Pop-Up, which opens in New York City Dec. 12-15, won’t be selling merchandise or offering promotions. Instead, the temporary location will enable visitors to donate new or gently worn shoes, or make a monetary donation that supports its partner Soles4ASouls, a group that distributes shoes and clothing to the needy worldwide. 

Meanwhile, Kohl’s opened its own pop-up in New York City between Nov. 7 and Nov. 10. The temporary store featured a Snapchat portal lens that replicated the store in 3D, and allowed users to shop featured product. Visitors were also able to take a virtual selfie with an avatar of designer Vera Wang at the store’s Simply Vera Vera Wang shop.

• Getting digital. Walmart is appealing to its shoppers’ need for convenience this holiday season. The retail giant expanded its “Check Out With Me” mobile service to all Walmart supercenters, a move that enables customers to check out with an associate from anywhere on the sales floor. Additionally, Walmart’s DotCom Store is now available in all Walmart supercenters. The service allows customers to place an online order with store associates. They can also choose to have orders delivered to their home or pick them up at their nearest Walmart store.

• Store-within-a-store concepts. One of the best ways to expand assortments — and attract new shoppers — is to create a store-within-a-store experience. Just in time for the holidays, Target introduced a store-in-store endeavor that is sure to engage shoppers searching for the latest “merch” coinciding with Disney’s new releases of “Frozen 2” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” among other movies. 

The discounter opened dedicated Disney Stores at 25 Target locations on Oct. 4, and 40 more are expected to open by October 2020. The Disney shops feature more than 450 items, including toys, games, apparel and accessories. (More than 100 products were previously only available at Disney retail locations.) Target also launched a Disney-themed experience on its website.

• Elevated in-store experiences. Customer engagement is key to driving repeat store visits throughout the holiday season. Walmart for example, is hosting themed in-store events revolving around "Pokémo, Star Wars and Frozen 2. Santa will also visit Walmart stores nationwide on Dec. 7. 

Other retailers are giving shoppers even more reasons to visit far beyond the holiday season. For example, Lululemon’s newest store, which opened on Nov. 20 in the Mall of America, features a restaurant that serves a variety of healthy beverages, food and snack options; studio spaces that offer weekly yoga and fitness classes, as well as locker rooms equipped with showers. The store also has room to host large events, including movies and concerts.

Want to learn more about immersive retail experiences? Join us at SPECS 2020, March 15-17, 2020, at the Gaylord Texan, Grapevine (Dallas). To register, click here.