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Blog / Oct. 09

Retail 2020: Thriving in the Experience Era

Nicole Crowe

Over two decades ago, an article was published in the Harvard Business Review titled “Welcome to the Experience Economy.” Contained within that article was the following counsel: “From now on, leading-edge companies—whether they sell to consumers or businesses—will find that the next competitive battleground lies in staging experiences.”

So, the question is, if we had 20+ years to prepare, why does it feel holistically, as an industry, that retail is playing catch-up to deliver on consumers’ experience-driven expectations? There’s a litany of reasons why, from the dizzying pace of consumer tech adoption to the associated rate at which we became a digital-first society, but the reality remains the same.

Right here. Right now. Retail’s competitive battleground centers on experiences. That is why Aptos’ 1,300+ colleagues are working hand-in-hand with retailers to help them transform their businesses to disrupt, redefine and differentiate on experiences.

That is also why I am proud to announce the launch of our upcoming Thinking Retail event series, “Retail 2020: Thriving in the Experience Era.”

Thinking Retail Forums: Global Mindset, Local Focus

When Aptos acquired TXT Retail, we didn’t just gain their market-leading planning, PLM and supply chain management solutions. We were also proud to adopt and evolve their Thinking Retail Forums (TRFs), a global series of events. Thinking Retail Forums bring together industry thought leaders and retail executives in key cities around the world.

We are excited to host upcoming TRFs in the following cities: Santiago, New York, LondonVerona, Hangzhou and Paris.

From the Far East to the Far West, and cities in between, each Forum has been carefully crafted to deliver experiences, insights, experts and case studies that are closely aligned to the business conditions of each market. The Forums will cover the unique challenges and opportunities retailers in each region face as they attempt to adapt to the expectations of shoppers in the Experience Era.

And true to form, we can’t host events focused on experiences without a bit of differentiation of our own …

Networking in the Clouds, Wizards, Wine Tours and More

On October 10, our TRF series kicks off in Santiago at Sky Costanera, the tallest building in Latin America. Amid a backdrop of the Andes Mountains, we’ll discuss how retailers can take their businesses to new heights and discover the merchandising strategies that support experiential retail.

The next event will take place in New York on November 6, as we explore an eclectic Brooklyn neighborhood that has mastered the art of experiential retailing. What can we learn from one NYC neighborhood? Retail experts will walk us through how we can take these local findings and adapt them to our merchandising and omnichannel strategies.

Following New York, we’ll travel to the Warner Bros. Studio in London on November 20 for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Harry Potter. Here, we’ll learn how to create experiences and assortments that will bewitch shoppers, with no magic required.

Less than a week later, we’ll gather in Verona for a Forum that will include presentations by leading Italian brands, including AW LAB, Furla, Intimissimi and OVS. The event will focus on how to re-energize the customer experience for modern retail and will include a wine tour at the historic Masi estates.

The global series will continue with Forums in Hangzhou and Paris. While our team is still putting the finishing touches on those events, it’s safe to say they will be designed to inform, delight and inspire. Because if that’s not the objective of an experience these days, what’s the point?

Experience Isn’t a Gimmick; It’s a Feeling

One of the biggest reasons experiential retail is on the rise is that it creates an immersive environment in which customers are buying into a “lifestyle,” versus simply buying a product. Consumers aren’t just looking to make a transaction. They want to be shown how this transaction will improve their lives physically, socially or mentally.

In fact, according to a study by Forrester Research, consumers say that the way a brand makes them feel is 1.5 times more important in their buying decisions than any other factor.

One of the most common myths is that experiential retail means more screens or the latest technology buzzword. While retail technology innovation and the limitless nature of what’s possible is cause for considerable optimism, technology investments should always be pursued with a specific business objective in mind, whether it’s enhancing customer journeys or realizing new efficiencies in operating processes.

If you are interested in identifying what it takes to thrive in the Experience Era and enjoy connecting with people who have a real understanding of your industry and its specific needs, I hope you will consider attending a Thinking Retail Forum.

These events, spanning six cities and four continents, are free to attend. For more information, visit our website or reach out to me on LinkedIn.