Bob Hall gives his top five tips for retailers to woo their customers by making shopping an interactive, immersive experience.

With online sales growing at over 10% a year, High Street stores need to work hard to impress their audience. But the good news is that by transforming shopping from a functional practicality to an emotional experience, brands can encourage shoppers to abandon their sofas and embrace all the High Street has to offer.

By using retail theatre, or ‘retailtainment’, physical stores can engage with their customers on a far deeper level, enabling them to live and breathe the brand story and securing their loyalty in the process.

As Bob Hall, Greenlite Lighting’s Managing Director says: “Lighting sets the scene. Good design makes sure it’s telling the right story about your company.”

1 Make it memorable

Attention grabbing displays, interactive product demonstrations, atmospheric lighting, music and bright-eyed, bushy-tailed staff are all key to giving shoppers a memorable brand experience. Dyson has this down to a fine art, in its London-based Dyson Demo store. An in-store salon offers customers the chance to trial the new hair dryer with a free blow dry, and to road test vacuum cleaners on different types of flooring. Google reviewers rave about the complimentary hair do, how polished the displays are and how enjoyable the shopping experience is.

2 Take ideas from everywhere

Of course, well-informed shop assistants play a vital role on the retail stage. Retail giant John Lewis plans to capitalise on this by sending staff at the new Oxford store for drama lessons. As Customer Experience Director Peter Cross says, the training will give them “the tools and techniques of the theatre to ensure every customer interaction is as magical as possible.”

3 Capture the magic

At Disney’s flagship London store, customers can truly immerse themselves in a fairy tale world. Shoppers walk through the gates of a gigantic castle, pose for photos in a life size Cinderella carriage and select Disney tunes on touch screens. They can even catch a classic in the cinema area, and each morning a child is chosen to ‘unlock’ the shop with a gigantic key.

4 Tech is your friend

Personalising an interactive brand experience is also guaranteed to put a big smile on the shopper’s face. Burberry recently launched 45-minute perfume consultations, to celebrate the launch of its Burberry Bespoke collection. Aficionados choose from the seven scents in the collection, which each come in a variety of different strengths. Their scent is then beautifully packaged in a mirror-bottomed bottle, which is emblazoned with their initials and decorated with a leather ribbon they choose from one of 16 shades.

5 Lighting it up

And just like in the theatre, lighting is key to the success of any performance. Covent Garden recently got shoppers well and truly into the Christmas spirit by decorating the market with 40 mistletoe-clad chandeliers and 10,000 pea lights. Likewise, well-positioned spotlights add a sense of occasion to an in-store display, highlighting the star products in the show. Dynamic lighting can also be set to a sequence that attracts shoppers’ attention, adding drama to the scene. And individually controlled LED units means one part of the store can have a party atmosphere, whilst another zone has a cosy, comforting feel.