Retail: How are boutiques reinventing the in-store experience?

With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, consumers are ready to return to physical stores, and with new expectations and demands. The most innovative retailers have taken note and are fine-tuning or reinventing their physical experience. Analysis.

The Club Tissus chain has opened café areas in most of its branches to provide a meeting place for its customers. Vintage clothing boutiques Carole and Womance, both of which started out 100% online, have moved into physical boutiques (Carole now has five).

Although online shopping is very popular, there’s a majority of people who don’t necessarily like to buy online,” explains Andréanne Marquis, founder of Womance, “it’s a recurring request that we’ve had year after year.

Womance chose to involve its customers in the site selection process, by polling potential locations in the Montreal area. Among the 10,000 people who expressed their preference, a consensus emerged in favor of a boutique in Quartier DIX30, in Montréal.

In Quebec City, clothing boutique Marilou design chose to innovate by offering its customers private evenings:

At Marilou design, what makes the experience unique is not only a private styling session, hosted by the designer herself, in our Quebec City boutique, but it’s also a festive girls’ night out,” says Marilou design’s marketing manager. It’s an evening for friends to store, yes, but also to chat, have fun with a drink in hand, escape the daily grind, all the while benefiting from Marie-Lou’s style advice. Seeing your friends shine in their new outfits, getting compliments when it’s your turn to try on your favorites… It’s a very festive and fun evening, with a little ‘fashion show’ touch.”

A place for artists

Lunetterie Doyle optométristes et opticiens, located in Montreal’s Verdun district, also decided to go all out, to welcome the full return of the in-person experience. The owner commissioned Montreal visual artist Chien Champion to create a mural in his store.

Since the pandemic, many consumers are now shopping online,” explains the press release. Street-front stores need to stand out from the crowd and offer customers a unique experience. Visual art in a retail environment is undoubtedly an innovative way to embellish the space and offer an experience to customers, who will now be able to admire and enjoy a creative, colorful and pleasant atmosphere”.

We love working with high-quality artists who push us to think outside the box. This kind of creative project is at the heart of our desire to surprise our customers while remaining relevant and dynamic for the community. In the past, the group has collaborated with Zébulon Perron on its boutique concept, as well as with Annie Horth, in 2022, for her Atelier78 frame collection,” notes Patrick Doyle, president of the group.

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