Immersive retail - the pursuit of quality, craftsmanship & innovation
There is much talk of immersive experiences enabled by VR and IR, but what makes immersive good right now is the human interaction. Consumers love storytelling, of that there is no doubt, it is part of what makes us human beings.
Immersive retailing puts the shopper/ consumer inside the story. As soon as you enter the Starbucks Reserve store on 1st Avenue in Seattle, WA, USA you know it’s different to the rest of the green and white estate. For a start it’s brown, and gold and shades of natural wood, and more reminiscent of a chemistry lab' than a fast food shop. The tools of the trade are taps and roasteries, carefully shrouded in the mysteries of the manual coffee maker.
These master roasters look like they know what they are doing, controlling every stage of the brewing process with aplomb. Surrounded by syphons and thermometers and clean marble looking slabs like a hunter about to eviscerate prey.
I am greeted with theatrical confidence, and “how are you kind sir,” “just fine thanks”, it rains in Seattle like welsh Wales, stair rods. So I was wet, like the ocean, not to be put off my new coffee friend, suggested I take a seat, dry out and consider the heavyweight menu.
This is far removed from queuing in line at the counter unsure whether the server is taking a drive thru’ order, talking to his colleague or asking me what I want, this is one-to-one attention, this is ultimate service.
We continue to discuss small-lot coffee and how different some blends can be, like Nicaragua La Laguna or Guatemala Yaxbatz Estate, thankfully I plump for one I can say, Jamaica Blue Mountain - named after the mist that casts a blue tinged glow over the Jamaicain mountains, this coffee is grown high in the blue ridge I am told.
“Oh good, I will have one of those please”
So this is immersive retail well it feels like engaged customer service to me, something I applaud and believe in wholeheartedly. As the world moves from labour to robots, from friction to non-friction I hope we retain the humanity in retail experiences and have the opportunity to discuss the merits of small lot- coffee should we chose.
As for the coffee it tasted good, was I blown away no, but I did enjoy the experience, and having time to spare was very happy to be entertained.