How To Stop The Big Bad Wolf From Blowing Our Stores Down

A retail fairytale

By Riley Snelling

As a child, reality and fantasy were one of the same… or at least I dreamt of them that way.

Despite the fact that we all grew up differently, every child can bond over a fairytale. Even more so when that fairytale comes to life. Hence why the infamous Disneyworld is such a successfully magical place.

We grew up watching Disney shows with all our favourite characters — Whinnie-the-Pooh, Goofy, Chip ’n’ Dale, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan — whomever they might have been, we all had dreams of them coming to life.

The thought of one place where all of these adventurous, stunning, funny and for some reason relatable characters lived, was as if the world we would escape to in our head had escaped into reality. In other words, it was a dream come true.

The desire to experience something that we otherwise would only see in a virtual aspect is something we’ve always had. The advancement of virtual technology however, has changed the kind of experience we’re looking for.

This is exactly what’s happening in the retail industry.

Once upon a time there was a sole demand for physical shopping, but with the rise of efficient and convenient ecommerce retail, we’ve seen a lift in demand for virtual shopping.

Stores are popping up online every day, and are pushing the brick-and-mortars aside, but what many don’t know is that they are bringing them back.

There is a wolf huffing and puffing outside those big box stores, but he’s really not that bad. Unlike the fairytale, a lot of people love him because he makes our lives easier.

He is there to force renovations. To push aside, yes, but then to help build a new foundation; a foundation based upon what our shoppers love.

So what is that? Well, why do so many of us love Disneyworld?

1. Discovery

The fantasy worlds Disney characters live in are exciting and adventurous. The opportunity to take part in that world allows us to discover everything for the first time… just like the characters.

With 85% of shoppers saying they prefer to go into a store because they can touch and feel a product, it’s evident that this desire to explore brands in person is not going away.

The advantage of physical space to a shopper is not only the ability to feel and connect with the product, but also the ability to feel and connect with the brand.

One of my favourite brand store experiences is Chobani down in Soho. Yes, the yogurt brand you likely see in your grocery store has a bespoke yogurt bar down in Soho. It’s like Menchies, but with legit yogurt.

A brand that I used to associate with my parent’s favourite yogurt became mine as a result of my experience in that store.

2. Connection

Mickey & Minny, Snow White or Goofy. Meeting the characters is one feature of Disneyworld that I’ll admit I’m a little less excited by than I used to be. But regardless, I know that I have the ability to approach one if I wanted, and that option for interaction is all that matters.

Sometimes hearing about a product from a fellow human in our presence somehow validates its quality and features, or sometimes we just want someone else’s opinion. And whether or not we enjoy talking to people in stores, the option of having someone to interact with is better than not.

Harry’s, a razor subscription service, opened up a barber shop in New York a few years ago to give customers the opportunity to be introduced to the product in person.

The decision to open up a shop where the sales of the product is integrated into a necessary service for all customers is what I call genius; not only are these barbers product experts, like any other barber they are there to listen to what’s going on in our lives, to laugh at our most recent embarrassments, or congratulate us on our most recent accomplishments.

Technology will continue to get better at informing customers about offerings, but no technology can create the personal experience of a human.

3. Entertainment

Disneyworld is unreal. It creates a uniquely valuable experience that makes people return over and over.

When a store feels like a museum, coffee shop or some other form of entertainment, the desire to encounter that store’s brand becomes greater over time.

I’ll be the first to admit that stores with cool vibes are ones I am sure to return to, regardless of how I’ve felt about the brand previously.

My ultimate obsession in New York is Story. Formatted like a magazine that changes themes every six weeks or so, it carries various brands with just enough inventory to let people experience the products. Beyond what they sell, it offers various free events for shoppers from food trucks to educational workshops to comedy nights. Any brand that takes part in it is one I tend to fall for.

Message in A Bottle

Bring your shoppers’ fairytales to life by letting the wolf in; it’s the fusion of ecommerce with the excitement, amusement, and human interaction of physical commerce that will compose a ‘happily ever after’ reality.

I have no affiliation with Chobani, Harry’s, or Story.