August 12, 2021

Retailtainment – the future of physical retail

In recent years, especially after Covid-19 has forced us to keep our distance and minimize physical contact, consumption has increasingly shifted online, and the pressure on physical retailers has grown.

Written by Peter Møller
Back to overview

Today, physical retailers have had to reinvent their role in the market and find new and creative ways to win back customers. However, it may sound like a difficult task to compete with "open 24 hours a day", "delivery directly to your door," and "shopping without a queue," physical retailers have a clear advantage they can and should take advantage of.

Win back customers with retailtainment

Have you ever walked into a store and been drawn to the music, atmosphere, and surroundings without these elements necessarily involving the store's products? If you ever passed the clothing store Arket in Copenhagen and experienced how a café that sells vegan and vegetarian food has found a place among shirts, pants, and socks?

When Arket places a café in the store, the purpose is to give their customers an experience beyond the usual. Today, consumers are more in search of experiences than material things. According to Eventbrite, 78 percent of millennials consumers will prioritize spending money on an experience or event over a physical product.

Therefore, it is unlikely that physical stores will become irrelevant in the near future. Although e-Commerce is becoming increasingly popular, physical retailers can offer real-life experiences which is more valued than ever before.

This is where "retail entertainment" or "experimental shopping" comes into the picture. According to its originator, sociologist George Ritzer, a concept is based on sound, atmosphere, and activity, making customers interested in the products and in the mood to buy. Good in-store experiences can make shopping a social, de-stressing, and/or entertaining activity.


Retailtainment 2.0

Retailtainment is not a new concept designed to save physical retail. Ritzer already introduced the concept in 1999. Even before that, in 1951, a man named Victor Gruen invented the first American mall to provide consumers with a place where shopping was an enjoyable activity. He imagined how indoor spring cafes and nicely displayed products in the windows would give customers an experience of being in a market in Europe.

However, especially today, in the wake of Covid-19, it is extra valuable for physical retailers to use retail entertainment as a tool to win back customers. When e-Commerce is advancing at lightning speed, retailtainment is how physical retailers can regain their place in the market.


Get succes with retailtainment

Imagine you have decided to introduce retail entertainment in your business. In that case, there are three important questions you should ask yourself before to ensure that you succeed in creating the best environment for your particular customers.


1. Who is my costumer?

Familiarize yourself with who your ideal customer is, what preferences they have, and how to best entertain them.


2. What appeals to my customer?

Out of the many retail entertainment initiatives, you can introduce, choosing the most appealing to your customers is important. Is your customer someone who wants to be entertained through games? Or maybe someone who wants an experience in beautiful surroundings and with a calm atmosphere?


3. What trends can I take advantage of?

Investigate what trends are hot in your industry right now. If it is, for example, sustainability, then it may be relevant to introduce it as an element in your use of retail entertainment.


Good examples

In addition to Arket and various department stores, many retailers have implemented retail entertainment in their physical stores and have had great success. In the following, we have collected four examples:



LEGO definitely took retailtainment to the next level. In their physical stores, customers are greeted by significant and beautifully constructed Lego figures, set up in areas where children can play with Lego bricks. They have a "pick-a-brick" wall that challenges the children to think outside the box and stages their products in a unique, fun way. In addition to giving customers an extraordinary experience in their physical stores, Lego also has several amusement parks.



In London, Vans's clothing and shoe brand has created an extraordinary experience for their customers in the store "House of Vans." The place is tailored for young people with art, music, street culture, and fashion. As a young individual, you can come both to shop for Vans' products and just to be among other peers. In the House of Vans, you will find a cinema, café, live music, and a mini skate ramp. Vans' implementation of retail entertainment is clear proof that they know their customers well and how to create experiences to their liking.


The North Face

In the adventure brand The North Face's store in SoHo, Manhattan, you as a customer can see, feel and experience the story behind the brand you buy. The store is, in many ways, a museum of the North Face's history. When you walk around the store, you will, among other things, be presented with a replica of an early design of the North Face's logo. The logo gives you an understanding of how the brand got its name. You can see both original products created by North Face founders and athletes over time, together with products used for various excursions. For example, the climber Emily Harrington used a North Face sleeping bag on a particularly challenging trip, which is on display.



Nike's flagship store in New York is another example of the provider's successful retail entertainment. There are i.a. a mini basketball court with cameras that film your moves from different angles in the shop. A treadmill simulates outdoor running while filming your run so that Nike employees can recommend you the best running shoes. There is even a small enclosed area where you can play football, a shoe bar where customers can personalize their new sneakers, and specialists available who can take the customer through drills to test which shoes are best for them.

Of course, you do not have to implement retail entertainment at the same level as the above brands to be successful. As previously mentioned, it is about knowing your customers, understanding what appeals to them, and what the trends in the market are. You will come a long way with a little help from music, decor, and great ideas.


New call-to-action

Author Peter Møller

Peter Møller has + 30 years of experience with IT solutions, and he is a specialist within retail and e-Commerce. He helps some of Denmark's and the Nordic region's largest retail chains to run an optimal business. Reach out to Peter | Peter Møller, Director, Sales & Marketing | +45 25 50 56 31 |

See our related posts

See all