Amazon expands to physical retail and shows us what multibrand retail could look like

Amazon has opened a physical store in Soho, NY which is filled with products that are trusted — they either are rated 4-stars and above, are top sellers, or are trending.

The company claims to have created a space which is a direct reflection of their customers – specifically catering to what they’re buying and what they’re ‘loving’.

Starting with some of the most popular categories on, and layering on zones in the store for ‘Most-Wished-For’, ‘Trending Around NYC’, and ‘Frequently bought together’ – the space is designed to allow customers to discover products they love – and reflect Amazon’s online shopping habits, but in a physical environment. There are even customer review cards to accompany products.

As Digiday pointed out,this is a look at how Amazon is shaping how the department store of the future looks like, where customers decide on inventory, not buyers – putting pressure on big-box retailers to curate selections based on customer feedback. The use of real data – and stocking products that will have guaranteed success is truly innovative.

Techniques retailers are using to drive customers in-store

There are many techniques that retailers use to continue to drive foot traffic into their physical stores. In this article, we share just a few to get you thinking.

Turning a shopping trip into a destination through events

By bringing educational classes, or other experiential elements to your store, you can get customers thinking about a shopping visit as a desirable event outing instead. And as we know, the longer your customer spends in-store, the high probability they have of making a purchase.

For example, Williams-Sonoma offer cooking classes-instore where people can learn how to use products and sample the merchandise. Home Depot offer kids craft and building classes on the first Saturday of every month. And Lululemon has also found success in holding free yoga classes during slow business hours to drive traffic in-store. Classes feature products sold by Lululemon and this increases basket size in the process.

Offer services to complement your products

For retailers whose products require maintenance, offering services for free to in-store customers to encourage people to stop by. For example, Tanzanite Jewelry designs provides in-store services such as jewelry cleaning and battery replacement to help increase traffic and sales. In the cosmetics space, personal stylist consultations or makeovers can help drive shoppers instore. For example, Sephora offers free mini-makeovers where their highly trained make-up artists teach you how to use their products, often leading to not just sales, but repeat purchases by shoppers who are extremely happy with their selection.

Provide personalized recommendations and advice in-store

One of the leading benefits of making purchases in physical retail stores is that your customers get to physically experience the product before making a purchase, as well as access to sales staff who can help with personalized recommendations. Retailers are tapping into this benefit, as well as introducing technologies which can mirror the benefits of online shopping, such as self checkout or sales staff having access to a customer’s past shopping history or preferences before offering advice in-store. All of this is helping bridge the gap between the online purchase experience and the instore shopping experience.

Rethinking the grocery store experience

Rethinking the grocery store experience from being a transitory destination to becoming an exploratory destination full of discovery is proving to be a worthwhile approach for grocery retailers.

Here are a few techniques stores are using to encourage shoppers to stay in store and elevate the in-store experience.

  • Lucky’s market are letting customers take a beer or glass of wine with them when they shop in a program called ‘Sip and Stroll’ – which comes complete with a cupholder in shopping carts.
  • Some grocers are holding ‘Meet the farmer’ events, partnering with vertical farming operations like Bright Farms and Gotham Greens to source produce from only miles away. This taps into the trend towards hyper-local produce – a phenomenon that Packaged Facts estimates will hit $20billion by next year!
  • A variety of grocery stores are experimenting with growing produce in stores! For examples, a Whole Foods that opened earlier this year Bridgewater, New Jersey features a mushroom farm that generates up to 120 pounds of fungi a week for the store. A Hy-Vee store in Iowa provides up to 15 pounds of herbs and lettuce for the store each week with eight-foot tall hydroponic grow walls.
  • Other grocery stores are bringing in an educational element to the grocery shop. Basics Market in Portland, features a large culinary classroom where shoppers can learn everything from knife skills to diabetes management. At select Martin’s stores in Indiana seniors can learn how to cook with local ingredients, while kids can take brownie-baking classes. Hy-Vee offers store tours with its many dietitians while Dave’s Supermarket in Rhode Island runs support groups and seminars for shoppers with celiac disease.

What L’Occitane’s new store concept means for retail

L’Occitane en Provence has opened up a new retail destination in New York in the form of an interactive boutique. Following the experiential retail trend, the new store is 1,870 square feet of sensory delight. Designed by international artistic director Daniel Contorni and Blackburn, it’s a step into the cobblestoned streets of Provence and all that this entails.

So what does move towards experience this mean for retail? It means the bar has been set higher for in-store experiences. Here’s just a few things that are inspirational about the L’Occitane retail experiences that other retailers can learn from and be inspired by.

A glocal approach



In addition to providing an immersive, delightful experience in New York, L’Occitane has adopted a ‘glocal’ approach, creating customized experiences tailored for local clientele – whether that be in Brazil, Paris, London, China, Singapore or Toronto. These experiences have worked hard to turn each L’Occitance location into a destination, showcasing the local portfolio of services on offer.

An evolutive space

Each location is seen as an ‘evolutive space’ – which continuously changes with the seasons to reflect different campaigns. This continuously change helps keep the physical retail locations fresh and relevant, giving customers a reason for repeat visits, and avoiding a ‘been there, done that’ attitude.

Experiencing it live

From in-store cafés and macaroons to customized products and complementary beauty treatments, L’Occitane provides even more reasons for customers to visit the physical store while telling the brand’s story through these physical experiences. For example, the new flagship on Regent Street in London offers personalised product engraving, complimentary hand and arm massages and beauty consultations in private rooms, as well as an in-store café offering limited edition Pierre Hermé macaroons. Delightful.