Climbing the Wall Back to In-Store Shopping

Kierstyn Schneck
April 21, 2021

Would you be more likely to buy a pair of shoes if you could try them out on the basketball court—all without leaving the store? Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are counting on it, hopping on a trend to offer you an experience in order to lure you away from your coach. 

It’s called “retailtainment,” and as restrictions lift and more people are vaccinated by the day, this is the answer some brands are coming to for the biggest retail challenge in 2021: How do we get consumers to shop in-person again?

What is retailtainment?

Retailtainment, or experiential retail, has been around for some time. From basketball courts and turf soccer fields in shoe stores, to meditation studios in athleisure clothing stores, the purpose is to encourage more time spent in-store and engaging with the brand to create a longer-lasting relationship with a customer. 

According to a 2020 survey, more than 80 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product after interacting with it in-store. 

And what’s more interactive than rock-climbing?  Dick’s Sporting Goods is relying on that and more to spur on their commerce, digital or otherwise, in 2021. The brand will be creating a “house of sports” with a large field, running track, wellness center for sports injuries, and everything else you could need to roleplay as your favorite fantasy pick. This concept isn’t limited to sportswear, either—Vans has its own “housein London for skateboarding and art exhibits that illustrate the brand’s image and the culture of its consumers.

Retailers are also taking their brick-and-mortar stores and combining them with the digital experience we’ve all come to adopt due to the pandemic, linking consumers’ online and offline lives using data to enhance the retail experience. Consider Nike Live, an experiential store that relies on a members-only concept to create exclusivity. Each store is hyper-localized using data on its consumers to bring unique merchandise to the area and utilizes digital vending machines to offer rewards/gifts in store to loyal customers. 

Keep it social 

In a digital age, offering one-of-a-kind experiences—especially those that can be ‘grammed and posted to TikTok—helps brands stand apart and build relationships with their customers. Social media has a huge role to play in creating that relationship and community. 

Dick’s Sporting Goods shares videos of its employees and shoppers using their experiential spaces to create intrigue and attract people to their stores, while encouraging users to do the same.  Through social media, everyone becomes a promoter of the brand and can take part in digital challenges that grow awareness about the experiential store itself. 


Our teammates are killing the dsghoopschallenge! #trickshotforcharity

♬ original sound – DICKS Sporting Goods

You can also flip the script, like IKEA did, using social media to create a unique retail experience/event. Their “Big Sleepover” campaign brought winners from a social media competition to one of their warehouses to create their own IKEA bedroom for a sleepover, ensuring retailtainment for the winners and their social followers alike.

Connecting to consumers via social media, even as we enter a post-pandemic world, will be vital to any store looking to branch out into retailtainment. Last year saw an uptick in social media use, with users looking for more ways to engage with each other amid a pandemic. Social can act as a bridge to new, innovative customer experiences. So whether it’s through simple digital kiosks or a rock-climbing wall, finding ways to create a shareable moment using your digital data will put you on the right path in 2021.