Consumers eager to re-enter brick and mortar stores post pandemic, are looking to retail that is experiential to entertain them whilst they browse products or services.
“Both the retail and events industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, but if 2020 taught us anything, it’s the value of human connection and social experiences”. CEO, Warren Richmond.
Situ Live CEO, Warren Richmond has said that the opening of this experiential space in Westfield strives to “put the heart back into retail”. This discovery playhouse is hoping to harness a consumer-centric approach with the removal of tills or sales-focused staff. However, it seems what this space is prioritising is the vendor- who can afford to pay a subscription to have their product marketed within Situ. Instead of having a range of products from lower to high end, Situ Live is championing luxury brands. These brands include Maserati, alongside 75 other luxury brands- all exhibiting their latest products to be touched, tried, and tested by inquisitive shoppers.
Consumers can browse, test, and try out the latest products from innovative brands, scanning the QR codes displayed alongside different items. This directs the consumer directly to the brand’s website. Though this might seem convenient and attract those consumers who want an un-evasive shopping experience- it makes the process of purchasing very exclusive. The high-tech, experiential nature of the products and how they are marketed seems tailored to benefit a millennial generation- who predominantly live and interact digitally.
As visitors enter Situ Live, they can walk through the Situ Kitchen space. Here shoppers can test the latest appliances on offer, as well as try food and drink made during demonstrations. As well as the kitchen, there is a connected lounge featuring the latest tech to try out, as well as a fitness zone that features an interactive yoga mirror.
There’s also an ‘on the move’ section to the store, which displays new models of bikes and other travel-related products. A VR corner sits next to the kitchen, and showcases Facebook’s latest AR headset: oculus, for users to be immersed in a new digital experience. Though immersive, the novelty of what Situ Live is trying to create is limited as multiple other brands have since- or have before incorporated AR or VR into their spaces to deepen the retail experience.
Situ want to push the retail experience deeper, incorporating an entertainment element to their platform. There is a central stage area which showcases events, exhibitions, and guest speakers. There are also storytelling sessions taking place every 20 minutes across the different sections of Situ Live. These sessions allow the staff who are “story tellers” to market the products in a way that brings them to life for the shopper. Here what should be questioned is whether Situ is creating a human retail experience- or one that is focused solely on immersive marketing.
This new commercial model adopted by Situ Live aims to allow innovative product brands to launch incurring lower costs at high footfall retail, all fully managed. As well as this Situ Live will be the only venue in the current retail-scape to encourage shoppers to buy from other retailers…
“We are a discovery playhouse; we’re not a retailer. We don’t call this a store; this is a venue”.
At face value what is sold is an impressive shopping platform facilitating digital product exploration, live storytelling, and a combination of physical retail destinations. But will their approach foster emotional connections between consumers and brands, if the products on offer are tailored for and targeted towards an exclusive audience?
In such a fast-paced, fast-changing world- none of us really know the magic formula for future retail. Nonetheless, it is commendable to try something new, and we are excited to see how Situ progresses and responds to the future demands of consumers.
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