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Experiential Retail: Tips to Making a Memorable Sale

Use events and in-store experiences to leave a lasting impression on your customers

According to Salesfloor, Millennials view shopping as a social event to be seen as a fun and relaxing activity shared with family and friends. At a time in retail where e-commerce is a rising and significant force in the industry, it is crucial to identify the purchasing traits of the generation that is up-and-coming with the largest buying power of any other consumer.

For a brick and mortar store, in order to compete with online retail and to attract the attention of these millennial buyers, you must find a way to stand out. In the world of a global health pandemic when online sales are drastically rising, finding creative solutions to establishing that personal connection during the buying experience is essential. One strategy many successful jewelers are investing in is experiential retail.

What is Experiential Retail?

experiential retail
dianna rae jewelry
assisting a customer
Photo Credit: Dianna Rae Jewelry

To put it simply, experiential retail pertains to the parts of the shopping experience that lie outside of the specific good or service being purchased. The concept places the focus on the fact that a customer isn’t simply buying an item, they are buying an experience or a memory. In the jewelry industry, we understand that what we sell comes with emotion and memories. Those feelings extend to the act of buying as well.

What Does Experiential Retail Look Like?

Experiential retail is all about enhancing the shopping experience for the customer, whether that be a singular event or an ongoing facet of your sales strategy. Here are a couple examples of what our customers are doing to make their customers have a memorable time and some creative suggestions on how you might adapt keeping health concerns in mind.

Special Events

experiential retail
gemstone round table
dianna rae jewelry
Photo Credit: Dianna Rae Jewelry

A great option to elevate the shopping experience is to host an interactive event where your customers have more hands-on involvement while making a purchase. In 2020, events have started to look a little different. Many of us are used to virtual interactions that allow us to enjoy an experience from the comfort of our own homes. So what can we do?

For example, in the past, Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, LA held regular round table events where customers were invited to a local restaurant to view a large selection of gemstones guided by an expert to discuss the features of specific gems. Once customers perused their options, Dianna Rae and her team created a specially designed piece using the unique gemstone the customer chose to show it off to best effect. You can read more about Dianna Rae Jewelry and their round table events in this issue of From the Bench.

experiential retail
gemstone roundtable
dianna rae jewelry
Photo Credit: Dianna Rae Jewelry

Making an event like this socially distanced is easier than you might think. Try holding a virtual happy hour guided by the gemstone expert or make the event more exclusive with a smaller guest list that allows for appropriate and safe indoor gathering.

Events like these are successful because you are educating your customer in a social and fun way that establishes an emotional connection to the item.

In-Store Enhancements

Events can be effective tools in making the buying experience special for the customer, but you can also make adjustments to the everyday shopping experience that are unique and memorable. Navigating occupancy restrictions and making the shopping experience personal while being socially distant can be tricky. However, with some creativity, we can always find a solution!

experiential retail
customer assisting in the casting process
goldmine designs
Photo Credit: Goldmine Designs

Prior to COVID, Goldmine Designs in Seattle, WA brought the customer into the manufacturing process as they allowed customers to assist in casting their own piece of jewelry. With such a personal experience came the opportunity to share that with others. Not only could the customer help craft the piece, they were encouraged to bring family and friends to watch with complementary snacks. At this point, customers were no longer customers. They were part of the Goldmine Designs family. To learn more about the distinctive experiences Goldmine Designs have been providing their customers, view our blog post Casting in Seattle: An Experience Like None Other.

Approaching an experience like this while remaining safe and healthy is still possible today if proper precautions are taken. However, if you prefer offering a less hands-on experience, there are two other aspects of this tale you can learn from and implement in a socially distanced manner: the shared social experience and the complementary additions.

Consider adding a decorative wall and good lighting where customers can take quality pictures to share with family and friends on social media. Also, never underestimate the power of the free gift with (or even without) purchase. The priority should be to provide the customer with an emotional – and even physical – token of their visit that puts you top of mind when making their next purchase.

What Should I Do?

If you’re looking to take your sales to the next level, think of something special you can do to add to the overall customer experience that leaves them with a unique memory. Invite customers to an event, offer something exclusive and complementary in your store, etc.

In the age of a worldwide pandemic, events and other sales methods that involve close proximity may not be as possible as they once were – at least for the time being. Be extra creative to find ways to enhance the jewelry buying experience. Consumers are accustomed to virtual interactions through text, emails, and video calls, even when it comes to making purchases. So how do you plan to make this experience different?

Whatever direction you choose, remember that the goal is to make sure the customer has an experience they won’t forget.


Taylor Dizor

Staff Writer

Taylor holds degrees in Political Science and Communication from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as well as multiple certifications from GIA. His years in the wedding industry and love of fashion trends helps him write content for the on-trend and creative jeweler.