Today, shopping is much more than a means to checking off our to-do lists.  It has become an experience, often called retail theater, and in some cases, customers are a part of the show. What can customers expect when they walk into a store, or shall we say, onto the stage? How can brands create retail theater to entice, and engage, consumers? Well, the answers are limited only by the imagination. Now, when shoppers walk inside a store, or even window shop from the sidewalk, it’s showtime!

What is Retail Theatre?

Some stores are engaging customers inside with hands-on activities, inviting them to interact with the product to entice them to buy. This has been going on with cooking utensils for quite some time, but now brands are doing it with clothing.

In Las Vegas earlier this year, we saw SuitSupply – a glamorous men’s store filled with glamorous employees – doing something unglamorous in the window: sewing. They were tailoring their products right there in the front window. We noticed this store was attracting attention from almost every passerby because something real life was happening in their window.


Retail Theater: a term once used as a metaphor has become real.  

Last year in New York, we saw Godiva doing something similar – they had chocolate makers handcrafting delicious goodies right there in the window on 5th Avenue. Surrounded by the wonder that is New York in December, tourists actually stopped to stand near the window and they stayed for a considerable time, watching the man dipping strawberries in chocolate. Did we mention the store was packed?



Burberry, for instance, introduced a concept that brought the digital age and mobile movement to the store. Consumers were immersed in an audiovisual experience where they engage with emotive brand content. Consider the experience of a hybrid physical and online experience where innovative touch screens and digital walls surround buyers and bring an iconic brand into the future of retail theater.

The more time goes by, the more we think that theater – the ancient art of dramatic presentation – is key to creating a differentiating retail experience. Because, let’s face it, action attracts.

How will you set your stage?