EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Business

December 8, 2012

To attract shoppers, retailers adding entertainment factor

Just putting a price on a product and sticking it on a shelf is so old school.

And with consumers buying more each year online, brick-and-mortar retailers are working harder to add entertainment to their mix — from American Girl’s scavenger hunts to the Art of Shaving’s product demonstrations.

These experiences are something consumers can’t get from online shopping, so they drive traffic to the stores and keep customers there longer. They also build brand loyalty.

“You can buy a product just about everywhere. They are trying to add a different element so it is not just about the product,” said Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer of WSL/Strategic Retail, retail strategists and futurists based in New York. “They are giving people a reason to play - like Converse, where you can customize your sneaker - making it worth it to go into the store. A sense of place and a place to stay.”

Retailers have been using entertainment to attract shoppers for years, from mall carousels to the Great Mall of America’s whole amusement park. But with advances in technology and growing pressure from online competition, more retailers are adding interactive attractions inside their stores.

Savvy retailers engage customers with entertainment options, from watching to fully participating.

For 40 years, Bass Pro Shops has stayed open on Thanksgiving Day, drawing customers out after they have downed their Thanksgiving dinner for family-friendly attractions - free photos in Santa’s Wonderland, aquariums that re-create scenes from a local lake and free rides. Or as one customer put it, a “few free hours of entertainment.” And the shops hold free special events year-round.

Bass Pro Shops customers enter through a turnstile, just as they do for attractions.

“We’re the Disney World of outdoor stores ... a natural history museum of the area they are in, an aquarium, an art gallery with all the beautiful murals, antiques and conservation education. And oh, by the way, we do retail,” said Larry Whiteley, spokesman for Bass Pro Shops.

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