The recent Retail Week Interiors conference provided great examples of outstanding customer experience.

What if I asked you to come and watch a movie with me, complete with drinks and popcorn? Would you be excited? Inspired? Maybe, but probably not really.

How about if I said: “This Christmas, prepare to venture through a magical wardrobe, down a secret tunnel of trees into a beautiful, enchanted woodland and discover a cinema experience like no other”

Sounds a little different doesn’t it?

“What we now seek is an emotional, sensory experience – something that transports us to a magical, wonderful, memorable place”

This is how pop-up cinema Backyard Cinema encourages customers to go and watch its film showings.

Portal into a magical world

What was once retail theatre is now experiential retail, and nowhere is this felt more keenly than in stores.

According to research from property company Colliers, by 2021 the rate of growth in online sales is expected to decline from the current level of around 11% to 7%. So stores remain important, and here’s why.

First and foremost, consumers happen to be human beings. So we are increasingly seeking more from our engagement with retailers.

While once it might have been sufficient to liberally scatter digital screens throughout the store like confetti, today that misses the mark by a country mile.

What we now seek is an emotional, sensory experience – something that transports us to a magical, wonderful, memorable place. One where we can navigate through our own intrigue and can be inspired by the journey.

And at the conference we saw the perfect embodiment of this in start-up Backyard Cinema.

Why? Because it has challenged the traditional cinema experience, turning it inside out, on its head – and in so doing has created something quite special.

It was the ingredients to Backyard’s success that really resonated and made me rethink the whole concept of experiential retail.

The magic of Backyard’s world and what it has created was truly awe-inspiring. It came down to three keys elements:

Tell a narrative

The language used is revealing. Rather than simply “come and watch a movie” it tells a story, one which immediately fires the imagination and leaves you wanting to hear more – “…venture through a magical wardrobe…”. Perfect.

Add layers

In other words, continually generate interest and curiosity around every corner.

Create a journey

Through the layers, transport people on an inspirational journey that will create a perfectly stitched together experience that consumers will remember long after the day has come to an end.

Inspiring people with a journey that constantly arouses their curiosity. What could be better than that?

  • Andrew Busby is founder and chief executive of Retail Reflections and an IBM Futurist