Posted by Rethink Retail on June 14, 2019:

Future Stores Seattle held its annual West Coast convention and expo last week, where hundreds of key decision makers and cutting-edge solution providers gathered for an intimate exploration of the latest branding, design and tech innovations that will propel retail into 2020 and beyond.

Held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Seattle Washington from June 4 to June 7, Future Stores was buzzing with energy as attendees heard a myriad of fresh perspectives from thought leaders from brands like Levi’s, Lowes, Nordstrom, Sephora and UNTUCKit.

And one topic that seemed to be on everyone’s mind last week was how to provide consumers with a more connected experience.

Still a buzzword among many media outlets and retailers alike, experiential retail has been challenging to define over the past few years. Some consider it the “bells-and-whistles” of tech-centered store design while others view it as the behind the scenes tools that empower employees to provide engaged, frictionless service to guests both in-store and online.

Touchscreen solution provider Elo was there showcasing its latest and greatest point of sale, digital signage and self-service devices, and while the devices were certainly not lacking in shiny attraction, Elo’s Senior Director of North America Sales, Luke Wilwerding, didn’t let them do all the talking.

“We’re reaching a point where consumer preferences and younger generations actually want to go out and shop in stores,” Wilwerding told RETHINK Retail. “They want physical experiences; they want to touch and feel materials and they want to interact with the brand. And this is really driving the need and the investment in the physical store environments.”

Connecting with young people seemed to be a common concern among tech providers and retailers alike and Future Stores attendees were quick to note the changing of the tides as consumers become more receptive to digital promotions and advertising.

“People are looking for something that’s different. They want something they can connect with,” Mary Immer, Project Manager of Store Operations at Express, told RETHINK Retail.

“And if you stay the same old retailer offering the same old clothes and same old promotions, [consumers] are not going to want to come to you because someone else down the mall is offering something cooler, something more exciting and something that they’re connecting with.”

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