• Frictionless Holidays: In-Store Experience

    Originally posted to the Arc Worldwide blog in the December 2019 edition of The Marcket


    The holidays—it’s the most wonderful time of the year for gift-wishing children and gift-stocking retailers alike. While many people go online to make holiday purchases, 53% of all shoppers still plan to visit a mass merchant to buy their gifts this year. So, what is it that keeps holiday shoppers coming to stores, and what do they most want out of the experience to keep the good cheer going? Retailers have been gearing up for the holidays in new ways each year—all with the goal of keeping shopping fun, checkout lanes efficient and gift-givers jolly all season long.    

    NORTH POLE GREETINGS (Store Décor & Merchandising)  

    A little seasonal dressing can do wonders to infuse the holiday spirit. Signage is an instant signifier to shoppers that the holidays have arrived and that stores are ready to help them find everything on their lists. In-store seasonal thematics also set the stage for visual storytelling — serving up vignettes that delight and inspire shoppers with gift ideas.   Aside from hanging signs, retailers are finding ways for the holidays to show up in a bigger way. This year, Macy’s is leveraging their new 36-store pop-in model with Story to present “Home for the Holidays,” a one-stop shop-in-shop destination for everyone on your holiday list.    

    AN ARMY OF ELVES (Seasonal Associates)  

    Once the tinsel and garland is hung, stores are set to welcome a serious spike in shoppers — in 2018, the 10 busiest shopping days of the year fell between Thanksgiving and Christmas. To manage this holiday traffic boom, many retailers choose to add more associates in store. Target is staffing up big-time and planned to hire nearly 130,000 more team members for the 2019 season across over 1,800 stores [KK1] with a focus on “bringing guests ease, convenience and inspiration as they shop.” And many of these roles will also be devoted to fulfilling orders via their popular “Order Pickup” and “Drive Up” same-day services.    

    HOLIDAY HOSTING (Events)    

    Walmart has also upped the roles of existing associates—with some donning the role of “Holiday Helper”—to move beyond mere customer service and offer more of a concierge service. Not only do these employees scour the store to find forgotten items, open checkout lines and provide advice throughout departments, they also play host for special events and parties in-store. These events include product demos and samplings to help shoppers get inspired and discover the perfect gift, movie viewings of franchise hits like Pokémon and Star Wars to capture consumer attention, and perhaps the greatest draw of all, visits with Santa—a nationwide event in all Walmart stores on Dec. 7.      

    LAST-MINUTE DASHING (Extended Hours)  

    Many retail stores have taken on the faithful tradition of staying open late on Christmas Eve to accommodate any last-minute needs. It’s an apt adaption to Christmas shoppers’ buying habits, as 7% of people wait until the day before Christmas to do their shopping. Kohl’s has been known as a leader in this arena, in 2018 staying open for 24 hours daily from Dec. 21 until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, with in-store pickup offered until 3 p.m. And now that Kohl’s is an official “Amazon returns hotspot,” they’re bound to capture some post-holiday return traffic as well. 

  • Pop-In, Up & Away

    Originally posted to the Arc Worldwide blog in the October 2019 edition of The Marcket

    Brick-and-mortar retail is a haven of discovery. Finding a new brand, product or merchandising story adds to the fun of exploring in-store. In fact, 69% of shoppers expect to see new merchandise whenever they visit a site or store

    To satiate this shopper expectation for discovery, some retailers are devoting space that is regularly transformed to feature a new collection, brand, or theme with an always-evolving calendar of pop-in displays. 

    These pop-ins (or shop-in-shops) create a destination in-store that is easy to refresh and can break the rules of other in-store promotions or campaigns—from look and feel, to footprint and fixturing—and disrupt a shopper’s routine while celebrating “new news” that helps drive traffic and increase basket size. 

    Macy’s, for example, acquired STORY in 2018—the Manhattan storefront that defined themselves as “having the point of view of a magazine, changed like a gallery, and sold things like a store.” Macy’s has since brought the model to 36 stores in 15 states. Initial themes have included “A Color Story,” “An Outdoor Story” and “A School of Style Story.” For the Macy’s shopper, this evolving pop-in approach has potential to bring a new sense of discovery in-store with more dynamic and visually-impressive merchandising. While some have noted growing pains to scale the concept from one storefront to three dozen across the country, time will tell how Macy’s tells this STORY. 

    Target also brings this makeover mindset to its seasonal department and, at their next generation stores, a “Trend Spot” that greets shoppers’ at entry with the “season’s best looks and trends, designer partnerships, exclusive brands and more, all beautifully displayed,” as described on the company blog. And deeper in-store, the seasonal department gets a refreshed aesthetic and curated collection of merchandise for each major calendar event—holidays, summer, back-to-school and more. Target has established a system of modular fixtures, hanging signage, and bold splashes of color to easily transform these spaces to serve up what’s new and culturally relevant with impact and at scale. 

    Retailers looking to keep things fresh or celebrate new products/partnerships should consider building up an infrastructure for pop-ins or seasonal displays. This regular rotation gives stores new occasions to merchandise against and opens the door for endless collaborations and vignettes for shoppers to discover.

  • Not Just A Store Anymore

    Originally posted to the Arc Worldwide blog in the September 2019 edition of The Marcket

    When most items are just a click away, shoppers today need worthwhile experiences to entice them in-store. 

    Which is why more and more retailers are adding cafés, full restaurants, barbershops, meditation spaces, laundromats, and even movie theaters to complement their traditional inventory. In fact, it’s been found that 84% of shoppers are more likely to visit a store that offers services to help them get the most out of their purchase. 

    But for retailers to know what kind of experience is best, it starts with identifying the wants, needs and interests of their shoppers. 

    Lululemon, for example, just opened a 20,000-square-foot “experiential store” in Chicago that’s equipped with a restaurant, fitness space and lounge. As a brand with true tribe culture, Lululemon is deepening people’s devotion to its styles and the wellness-focused lifestyle it represents. In this case, adding fitness offerings and a healthy menu of power bowls and smoothies (and some indulgences like burgers and cocktails) makes perfect sense to capture more time and attention from shoppers looking to live the brand experience. The company expects about 10% of its fleet of stores to follow this model by 2023. 

    In New York, American Eagle Studio is tucked within a neighborhood full of college students. For these busy, style-conscious and cash-strapped Gen Z-ers, AE has integrated new ways to draw them in and increase dwell time. The space comes complete with a “Maker’s Shop” for on-the-spot alterations, and, better yet, a few commercial washers and dryers to do your laundry while you browse. Through these services, American Eagle Studio offers real value to its target audience and can be an ally when clothes need to be altered or washed. 

    On the West Coast, Wingtip in San Francisco is known as a “one-stop shop for the modern gentleman,” selling a curated collection of clothing, spirits and accessories. To build on its reputation as a trusted stylist and trendsetter, it’s added a barbershop to spruce up shoppers’ looks with a clean cut and shave from a master barber—a well-received and welcome add-on for their community. 

    Retail is rich with opportunities to build on the behaviors or interests of a brand’s community and culture by developing them as physical experiences integrated into the shopper’s journey. Whether big or small, eventized or evergreen, the best retailers are giving shoppers a reason to stop in, explore, and stay awhile.

  • GlobalShop 2019 Review: Top 5 Takeaways

    Originally posted to the Arc Worldwide blog.

    Arc’s Retail Design Group shares their insights from the industry-leading event.

    GlobalShop is the industry’s leading retail design, planning and merchandising expo and conference—and one of Arc’s favorite event destinations. Select Arc creatives, strategists and producers scoped out this year’s event and took note on what stood out to them most. Read on to learn about some key takeaways from GlobalShop 2019.

    Dana Stotts, SVP, Strategy Director

    Leo Nicholas from WestRock (a packaging design and retail solutions company) hosted a session all about the “enabled shopper” and opportunities for “phygital” experiences at retail. 

    The enabled shopper isn’t interested in trading off between price, value and convenience—they want it all. They also want efficient solutions that deliver a return on their time, with targeted, personalized engagement along the way. Enter the phygital experience, where store and consumer productivity meet. Bringing it to life requires an intersection of dynamic and static experiences, with both mobile-enabled and non-mobile facilitation, to meet the enabled shopper’s every demand and expectation. 

    Liz Rinaldi, VP, Design Director

    The ArtItalia booth was the hot place to be. Why? It bent the senses with its play of twisted perspective drawings, inviting guests to step into an illusion. Simple high-contrast black and white was a striking outlier in an expo full of colorful signage. The thumping beat of the house music could be heard from a distance, drawing guests in. And a bartender poured champagne, capping off a total experience that won “best exhibit” at the show. 

    Glenn Madigan, Associate Creative Director

    Many of the spaces we saw reminded us of the importance and impact of light. Good lighting at an expo can drastically change the environment. It’s not just about the physical, built structures, but how you accentuate them with light makes all the difference. We must not forget opportunities to spotlight product, backlight signage, use strip lighting below shelves, and guide shoppers with light so our messages don’t get left in the dark. 

    Kylie Wendell, Senior Environmental Designer

    The most successful booths engage attendees in an immersive, interactive experience that demonstrates their benefit. For example, a display fabricator we saw built out an ice cream shop made mostly of corrugated cardboard that displayed their craft and expertise, complete with a soft serve machine and toppings bar. 

    Brittany Meyer, Art Director
    This year’s show featured a series of “pop-up talks,” covering a wide variety of topics in 20-minute increments. By creating programming on the expo floor, it gave attendees a reason to stick around longer and return for programming of interest to them. These talks created a perfect combination of entertainment and information to engage attendees in a relevant way, but also give them a break from the overwhelming sea of products, reps and booths. 


    Arc’s Retail Design Group is a team devoted to building fully immersive & sensorial brand activations, spaces, and experiences. To tap into this agency capability, new clients should contact Arc Worldwide or existing clients can reach out to their Business Leadership team.