Huffington Post: Factory 360’s Michael Fernandez Reveals Experiential Marketing Trends

Holiday shopping season has arrived, but for many retailers, it's not the guaranteed boom it used to be. Thanks to smartphones, online shopping is faster and easier than ever, making it tougher and tougher for stores to compete. Significant extra effort must be made to not only get customers in the door, but to the register.

This is why experiential marketing - aka creative actions used to enhance a customer's in-person shopping experience - will be everywhere. The key to a smart experiential marketing campaign: make a smart, targeted plan and pinpoint what your target audience is looking for in a pleasurable shopping experience.

Among the most popular experiential marketing trends we'll be seeing:

In-Store Promotion of Retailer's Apps
Thanks to the ease of online shopping, stores are becoming default showrooms - customers come to check the product out in person, then make their purchase online. The key for retailers: make sure the site getting the sale is yours. Smart retailers will have associates roaming the floor to make consumers aware of the store's app, as well as encourage them to download it and guide them through the purchasing process.

Incentive Offerings on the Spot
Why do many consumers turn to online shopping first? The perks. To keep up, it's imperative that retailers offer similar ones. Free delivery, a percentage off, 'Family & Friends' sales and gift cards are just a few of the ways stores can stay competitive. Look for retailers to empower their associates to offer incentives to customers right on the sales floor!

Creating a Shopping Oasis
Black Friday: at best, it's stressful - at worst, it's scary. One of the smartest things retailers can do is to create a serene environment where customers can relax within the confines of the store. Coffee lounges, chair massages, hot apple cider, free Wi-Fi and charging stations offer a break from the madness while allowing shoppers to calmly experience the store's merchandise.

Feel-Good Stunts
It's the holidays, why not embrace it? Pop-up Christmas choirs that take requests from customers will surely put a smile on their faces. Other in-store, energy-creating activities include makeovers with roaming stylists or free samples of freshly cooked food. The more fun consumers are having, the better they'll feel about making their purchases.

Live Window Displays
There's a reason Fifth Avenue is always packed at Christmas. Window displays are becoming so detailed and intricate, they're even offering live performances. Investing in one will ensure a crucial first step: getting consumers looking and thinking about your store. If they like what's on the outside, chances are they'll want to take a peek inside, too.

Article appeared in The Huffington Post