Shopping with kids in tow can be a challenge—even for the most easygoing parent. Fussy kids can often lead a mom or dad to beat a swift retreat to the nearest exit. When that happens, parents lose productivity and retailers lose sales. Smart retailers, however, have caught on that integrating kid-friendly features into their space can result in a win-win for parents and retailers alike.
Becoming a Destination
There is no question that society is continuing to move rapidly from a service economy to an experience economy, where consumer engagement is a marketing priority. To remain relevant, retailers are devoting time, attention and resources to creating economic value by developing their space to feed the experiential appetites of contemporary shoppers.
Staging experiences is not theoretical. It’s a reality and it’s here. According to the authors who coined the term “the experience economy” in the late 1990s, “The question, then, isn’t whether, but when—and how—to enter the emerging experience economy.”
The question has been clearly answered. Retailers and shopping center owners are spending more time and money developing retail space that integrates kid-focused amenities such as mini-shopping carts, arcade games and play space. Why? Because they understand that shoppers will want to stay longer and also plan their visits ahead of time when offered an inviting, exciting environment.
Innovative family-friendly retail space might be a staple in the design plans of large retailers, but creating kid-space is also accessible to the small retail shop. This might sound like a tall order, but there are recipes to fit all sizes and budgets.
For instance, many mom-and-pop businesses have managed to clear a space for a small play area to occupy children, allowing their parents to shop at a more leisurely pace. From Ikea to the local hardware store, designing a kid-focused space is entirely scalable. Examples include tiny-tot tables furnished with crayons and coloring books, to floor space outfitted with a cheerful rug, Legos and puzzles.
Whether it’s shrinking green space in urban areas or the yearning to share physical social space, it is clear that embellishing retail space with kid-friendly features is an essential ingredient of greater profitability. Think collaboration: When you’re willing to create kid-accessible space, you are forging an alliance with parents who will appreciate the convenience.
Interactive is a characteristic that certainly dominates the social landscape, so it’s not surprising that millennials expect a fun and entertaining shopping experience—especially for their children. As one leading architect has observed, “Electronics have blurred the traditional shopping experience as it has evolved into a more social and personal experience.”
Shopping centers and malls across the U.S. are rapidly building and renovating their physical spaces to adapt to this new shopping paradigm. Staying competitive means offering your customers an engaging experience that transcends shopping. Accordingly, a significant component of that experience is providing shoppers with kid-focused amenities.
As the first entirely-digital generation, Millennial parents are sophisticated and tech savvy. The takeaway for retailers is to understand is that omnichannel shopping offers a multitude of options. While this generation of approximately 80 million consumers spending roughly $600 million each year is inclined to research products and services online, they actually prefer the experience of visiting brick-and-mortar stores.
The Same Bottom Line
Attracting and retaining customers remains the perennial marketing objective of all reliable marketing plans. That hasn’t changed. What has shifted is the strategy. Building customer loyalty requires offering your shoppers excellent customer service. As much as kid-friendly amenities can be dressed up with elaborate playgrounds, it really all comes down to knowing who your customers are, what they need, and how to make them comfortable. Modifying a small space in your store to engage the kids while their parents shop can expand your competitive edge and feed a healthier bottom line.
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