STORE SPACES

Five New Customer Experiences

BY Denise Lee Yohn

Savvy retailers and restaurateurs aren’t standing by while digital players, delivery services, and marketplaces try to steal their market share. They’re disrupting themselves and creating brand new retail customer experiences. Here are some of the more extraordinary developments of late:

Apple Town Hall in Chicago: Apple opened up a new “store” on the Chicago River, but the company calls it a “town square” for the role it envisions for the location. With lots of outdoor space, a boardroom to host meetings for local businesses, and a calendar of events and programs co-created with local non-profits and creative agencies, it’s changing the definition of “store.”

Starbucks Roastery: Earlier this year Howard Schultz stepped back from day to day involvement in Starbucks to focus on growing the company’s Roastery and Reserve brands.  Starbucks Roastery offers an even more high-end, sensory-stimulating, more-engaging in-store experience.  With plans to open 20-30 locations around the world, the company is ushering in the next wave of coffee experience. (Check out my video briefing on this new store concept.)

Shake Shack “playground”: ShakeShack has created an innovation “lab” in one of its restaurants, testing a cashless ordering system (customers order through in-store kiosks or their mobile phones) as well as back-of-house changes to improve delivery speed and packaging.  Like many companies, Shake Shack is using its stores to learn in real-time, in-person.

Walmart grocery pick-up and more: Walmart recently announced that shoppers will be able to pick up online grocery orders at 1,000 more stores starting next year and it is currently testing a service in which drivers deliver groceries right into customers’ refrigerators. It’s all part of the company’s push to leverage its brick-and-mortar capabilities to provide superior convenience over Amazon – and it’s the best strategy it can take. (See my take on Walmart vs. Amazon.)

Lolli & Pops: Forty-store chain  Lolli & Pops takes people back in time to an old-fashioned sweet shop, replete with “Chief Purveyors” (general managers) and “Magic Makers” (staff) whose job is to get customers right into the Lolli & Pops experience by offering you samples — all kinds, lots of them. Generosity, after all, is one of the company’s core values.

Brand-building consultant Denise Lee Yohn is also the author of e-book, Extraordinary Experiences: What Great Retail and Restaurant Brands Do.

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