Smart Retailers Make Seating Arrangements
I will never forget that chair; it was the only place in the entire store to sit down. It was rickety, with wooden arms worn smooth, a stained seat cushion and one leg two inches shorter than the others. Move even just a little bit and the whole thing careened backwards, coming dangerously close to falling into the dressing room curtain. hough I never did. Because I was an expert at balancing that chair, having practiced for a million hours while my mom tried on a million pants suits and a million dads gave me the stink eye because they wish they had my seat.
So it’s only natural that I approached the idea of lounge areas in retail stores (more sitting?!) with a bit of hesitation. I am too old to balance chairs now (although I bet I’m still really great at it), and besides, who wants to sit and chat with strangers in the middle of a shopping excursion?
Turns out, almost everyone.
Today’s shopper is an experience seeker. She craves interaction, stimulation, education. She wants some entertainment with her great deal; a bit of theater accompanying that must-have purchase; some spectacle alongside her spectacular find.
But we also know that she sometimes wants a breather; a quiet minute to “get away” from the buzz, maybe recharge her phone and simply ponder (ideally about what she is going to buy next). If she can also grab a cup of coffee or a drink, so much the better. These quiet, “non-shopping” moments are experiences, too, and smart retailers would do well to incorporate them into their in-store offering. Preferably with some chairs.
Retail marketers must think of their stores as destinations, meeting spots or community spaces. They should set aside places for shoppers to casually interact with one another, learning and sharing and unwinding. This facilitates longer in-store times and connection – between shoppers and between shoppers and the brand.
Many retailers are already embracing the lounge concept, among them J. Crew, Saks, Brooks Brothers and Sephora. Urban Outfitters has taken the idea to a whole new level (actually, 5 of them) with a recently opened complex in Williamsburg called Space Ninety 8. It merges commerce and lifestyle in an arresting, brand-authentic way. Says Gothamist, “It’s a thriving ecosystem replete with food, culture and libations.”
A beautiful, curated space set aside for shoppers to chat or think (or just sit) is a very real part of the future of in-store retail. It represents the continued growth of a customer-centric marketplace and the need to provide relevant, lifestyle-driven shopper experiences. It is also an investment that will pay off in brand loyalty, repeat visits and a better bottom line. (Just make sure all the legs on the chairs are even.)