Creating THEATRE in your market - Part 2


I want to stimulate your thinking. In the current climate, people do have money and they will spend given the right inspiration. Retailers need to change. We not only have the baby boomers, post baby boomers and "X" generation but I read recently that the "Y" generation have been ignored by many retailers. This generation makes up much of the market today. It is estimated that, in Australia alone, they have 1.5 billion dollars a year to spend – and not just on technology, research shows spending on food, drink, toys and clothes.


Following from last month's examples of retailers who are creating interactive and fun store or online experiences.

Retail Stores -   

Apple Stores:

Most of us have experienced large floor-space Apple Stores with great customer interaction. Have you noticed that each of the sales people have iPhones they use to process transactions automatically as they deal with customers? No handing you off to a long checkout queue. This keeps the transaction personal and quick. It also confirms their status as technology gurus.

In September, my wife and I visited a Westfield center in LA. Not only did we see a very large, busy Apple store but a few doors up was a Sony store, with the same interaction. A bit further around the center was a not-so-busy Microsoft store. Technology is an important part of our lives today. How can you utilise it to benefit your customers' experience?


Retro experience – a US hot dog and hamburger outlet concept where you drive in and park at a squawker box, very much like a drive in movie. You order your food, and it is delivered to you on roller-skates. It may be short-lived, but it captures people's attention. What kind of experience would capture potential customers in your business?

Beaumont Tiles:

An Australian company, particularly in the southern states and growing throughout other areas. The stores are interactive – you bring your plans and the staff help you with tile selection at large work tables. They also have a playground for children. How can you set your business up to make buying easier?

I am starting to notice a number of retail outlets where you can get a shoulder massage for no cost just by going into the store. Make the experience enjoyable and attract people inside your lease line.

One Gloria Jean's Coffees store:

A Franchisee in Melbourne has a regular children's book-reading about mid morning. This allows mums of younger children to come, sit and enjoy their coffee and food while the children are entertained.

And another:

In another store, positioned next to a medical center the two businesses co-operated. People with appointments for the medical center were given a pager, then they were able to go and enjoy a drink at Gloria Jean's Coffees. This reduced any stress and agitation in the medical reception area and the pager would call them when needed.

NY Restaurant:

Upper East Side's Park Avenue Autumn restaurant – whose quirky name changes with the seasons – now advertises that you can have a 'dinner date with a dictator'. They have teamed up with artist Michael Rakowitz, who has an Iraqi-Jewish background, to make the meal: venison topped with date syrup which is served up on gold-plated dishes looted from the palaces of Sadam Hussein. The restaurant has said it also uses rare pieces of Wedgewood china once owned by Iraq's King Faisal II to serve the dish. Food for thought here!

Online Retailing -

Online retailers are now moving towards and embracing live chat services to shatter the last stronghold of traditional traders – customer service. Live chat services give customers paying online or browsing the online store, the ability to chat live with a customer service assistant, through a pop-up box on their computer screen.

New figures show that retailers have big plans for live chats, with Forrester Research predicting the number of Australian sites will double in the next year. Take a good look at how you interact on your website. How can you improve?

Shoe Dazzle:

This is an online shoe store. You pay $49.95 a month, set up your personal profile, and every month you are shipped a pair of shoes. Many women love the idea of a brand new pair of shoes arriving every month, and they are not expensive. You can choose to have a month off – no money, no shoes, and you have twelve months to return the shoes if you are not happy.

Surface Computing:

You might remember Microsoft's first surface computer, a $15,000 table launched in 2008. Now Microsoft has partnered with Samsung and the "Surface 2.0" is due by year's end.

Creative Agencies, architects, and engineering officers, product developers and others will love the interactive, multi-touch drawing table. But for Microsoft, the table at the center of all of this is just the beginning. In fact tablets are not far from providing such interaction already.

TV programs like the new "Hawaii 5-O", "Bones" and others are using interactive tables and screens. It won't be long before we see interaction in retail stores, whether it is fashion, or whatever.

Eventually we will be able to simply speak or wave our commands to whatever connected device happens to be closest at the time. In the workplace of the future, the PC could be the last thing you touch - computing will be taking place all around you.

For more information visit:

Eco-Signs and Graphics:

I was visiting a friend at Eco Signs and Graphics who showed me an interactive, stand-up touch-screen. In retail stores, a customer can walk in, stand in front of the screen and simply touch the options to see themselves in an out-fit, pair of shoes or the like. What a great way for customers to become interactive within your store! Interested - visit:

And there's more -

Intel have developed retail signs that will adjust to people's gender and age.

Shopping malls are developing ways of interacting and attracting people. Like the real ski slope some of you may have visited in Dubai.

In Australia now some shopping malls are offering JP services at times during the week, providing a service to bring customers back.

Certainly, Landlords of shopping centers are looking for retailers who will provide the theatre and interactive mindset. Let your mind have free rein. What could you do to make your business a real 'experience' for customers?

Peter Irvine
Peter is Co-Founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, author of "Win In Business", speaker and business consultant.

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