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Over the next few posts, I’ll be discussing five key predictions for the evolution of retail in 2021. The first is the expansion of experiential retail.

As the pandemic eases, people will begin gathering again, at everything from theme parks to live music events — and retailers will need to participate actively in this return to public life.

That means going to where people are, not just waiting for them to come to your stores.

Nobody buys a ticket to a store, but people do buy tickets to auto shows and rock concerts and sporting events — they invest in the event and the experience, and they’re going to spend time there. And while some of those people may not plan to stop by your store, they will check out your display at an event. That creates a unique opportunity for you to share your product and your brand with them where they’re gathering.

That kind of thinking should also inform the way you think about the experience in your store. Now is the time to focus on developing and offering a compelling in-store experience that your customers can’t get from surfing the Web or from sitting at home waiting for the FedEx guy to show up.

People are longing for the kind of human connection you’re uniquely positioned to offer — and you can start to respond that need today.

That could mean reaching out now to ask for their input on product selection, it could mean announcing an invitation-only grand reopening event for select clients — whatever you choose to do, it should be about making your customers feel involved and appreciated, giving them something to look forward to, and building their anticipation for a return to retail.

It could also mean collaborating in ways you may not have considered before. Your nearest competitor isn’t the store down the street — your nearest competitor is Amazon. By working together with adjacent brands to offer unique, collaborative experiences to your customers, you can give people a new and engaging reason to come to your store.

The Industrious can help you build those experiences in some very exciting ways, but it ultimately comes down to one basic thing: you have physical spaces, and people are craving human interaction. What are you doing right now to make sure that when customers feel safe leaving their homes again, you’re there to meet them?

Please feel free to reach out to me directly here with any questions or thoughts, or click here to download our white paper on responding to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.