retail experiences, digital, innovation, insights

Innovation in retail: The differentiation of experiences

Posted 02-11-21
5 minute read

toy store display

Experiential retail display is widely used to influence shopper behaviour through entertainment and/or education in-store.

Designing in-store product displays that appeal to shoppers’ senses doesn’t just attract and engage them whilst in-store; it also enhances their shopping experience and helps drive sales.

Recently, a survey of over 5,000 fashion buyers showed 44% of people were more motivated to visit a physical shop that gave personalised offers to use in-store and linked to digital experiences.

This, along with countless more statistics, shows the importance of integrating on-line with off-line, technology, entertainment, connecting seamlessly for experiences that enhance digital and physical shopping.

For retailers and brands, experiential display solutions must centre around performance, both for the shopper and bottom-line sales, incorporating elements of interactivity and originality while creating a relationship between the shop/product and the consumers.

There is one key ingredient that helps ensure these elements are met.


Designing retail experiences is about thinking outside the box, being unique and promoting innovation.

What does it mean to be different? 

In-store experiences can be physical, digital or a combination of both. The way that these interact seamlessly is important to the shopper journey. Overall, the shopper should be given opportunities to touch, feel and interact with products while in the store in a memorable way.

Yet being different doesn’t always mean doing everything new.

Shaking up the norm and including relevant experiences within physical designs can be a great way to add a wow factor to your in-store marketing. Creating unique, creative, and well-thought-through experiences provides exciting, unexpected moments that help reflect your brand and messaging, putting your product in the spotlight.

Why your customers seek unique experiences

The COVID 19 pandemic has changed shopper behaviour. Retail has had to change, it’s now a complex ecosystem of physical spaces and digital consumption. The purpose extends far beyond displaying and selling products and services.

Shopper behaviour has driven the need to merge social interactions, fun, entertainment, and learning experiences.

In February 2021, up to 71% of people were buying more online than they ever had before. Now, with lockdown restrictions lifted, businesses are faced with more pressure to encourage shoppers back to the high streets.

Where online retail cannot compete, is in offering hands-on, in person experience. Experiential retail displays offer shoppers the chance to interact with products, allowing them to touch, feel, hear, and smell, enhancing their retail experience through entertainment and education rather than simply enabling a purchase.

The role of stores has evolved, turning them into places that offer meaningful interactions with customers. The entertaining and often education and playful experiences which are only available in-store is rapidly becoming a fixed part of shoppers’ expectations.

Physical retail stores are only part of a wider system of shopper experiences that must connect seamlessly at all touchpoints.

How you can harness more creativity in your next retail experience

At Displayplan, we are pragmatic in our approach to creative ideas and solutions. First, we make sure we understand the problem, client goals and objectives.

Then we apply a ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ methodology that justifies our thought process, answers the client brief and offers additional insights that enhance the final solutions.

We always begin the creative process by considering all the steps of the whole project, right through to end of life recycling and reuse. This ensures we create ideas at the start that can be realised and look just like the first visuals.

By working in this way, we aim to make at an experiential display solution that:

  • Delivers an enhanced shopper experience
  • Achieves our client’s objectives and solves the problem
  • Incorporates our sustainable design thinking approach by including materials that can be reused or recycled at end of life.

Creativity at Displayplan means thinking through relevant solutions to the challenges set for us by our clients. Not just design-led ideas, but the ability to see through the issues and navigate the complete project process from sketch to store.

Yet while creative idea generation processes are in themselves exciting, the limiters faced by many retailers have to be considered. Creating great-looking, engaging retail display concepts is only part of the story; the other side is being able to implement these ideas within the confines of client budgets. This is the art of realising solutions.


The results of differences in experiences

We continually watch what’s happening in the market, keeping in touch with and understanding shopper behavioural change.

Our designers blend creativity with insights to form the reasoning for relevant ideas and design directions that respond to changing global trends. Keeping an open mind and promoting curiosity gives our team new evolving approaches to what we do.

This approach has inspired a range of highly innovative and successful experiential retail displays, such as Hasbro’s immersive in-store My Little Pony brand experience for children. We built a custom 3D immersive virtual reality experience of the world of My Little Pony with 360-degree content, delivered through a mobile phone integrated within play binoculars. This award-winning solution was designed and custom-built for retail stores, including a built-in fan and sound effects.

More recently, Displayplan developed an award-winning play table concept designed to showcase all of Boots’ electrical beauty products in one area. Here, we used a blend of relevant integrated digital and physical displays designed to engage, educate and excite shoppers, offering a one-stop in-store destination for the full electrical beauty product range.

The concept provides a hands-on experience for shoppers to touch, feel and try high-value electrical beauty products, including men’s and women’s shaving, hair care and electrical dental products. It also provides analytics and reporting to derive an understanding of shopper engagement.

And finally, yes, we did say “award winning”.  The Boots experiential play table display design received the POPAI Innovation Gold Award in 2021. We were pleased about that.

Ready to take your retail display to the next level?

Retail displays should be designed to offer hands-on, educational, and retailtainment experiences. These appeal to the senses and emotions of the target shopper, whether it be the child whisked away to the land of Equestria for My Little Pony or the shopper at Boots who wants to handle and compare electrical beauty products.

Your retail display should offer shoppers the opportunity to engage with your brand, experience your products and become invested in them. These factors all influence brand awareness, customer loyalty and sales.

At Displayplan, we’re retail display experts. So, if you want to collaborate on a retail display that’s out of this world, speak with one of our specialists on 01462 88 6000 or email