Boost Customer Experience with These 5 Destination Retail Ideas from Around the World

From Payless and Barneys to Toys “R” Us and Forever 21, the retail industry witnessed a series of bankruptcies over the last few years. Coupled with a dramatic media narrative discussing the impending “retail apocalypse” which spiked in 2017 and beyond. But, CB Insights asked, “Is this fear warranted?” When you take a look at innovations like destination retail, it’s clear that retail is simply changing rather than dying out.

Retail is Evolving

A major turning point in retail is the importance of customer experience which partly contributes to the industry’s ongoing transformation. To answer the question, no, retail is not dead. It is merely responding to the new challenges the present retail landscape has.

Demanding consumers, rising competition, increasing costs, and a growing number of customer touchpoints across online and offline channels. The same challenges that retailers can turn into opportunities to stand out from the noise and win customers.

The Impact of Destination Retail

As customer experience becomes a competitive advantage, experiential or destination retail proves to be an effective strategy to lure customers in the store. As Statista revealed, 91% of consumers “have more positive feelings about brands after attending events and experiences.” Moreover, 85% of consumers are “likely to purchase after participating in events and experiences.”

Who is driving this trend? KPMG found that 78% of young consumers, specifically the millennials, prefer to spend money on an experience or event and share these experience-related purchases on social media. Young consumers believe that attending experiences helps them connect better with friends, community, and people around the world.

More than 60% of retail sales today start online and then finish in-store for brands such as Target, Williams Sonoma, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus, according to Cognizant. This makes experiential or destination retail an influential part of the whole buyer journey from product discovery to purchase.

As retailers plan to invest in capabilities that enhance customer experience, here are five retailers from around the world spearheading innovative and outstanding destination retail experiences.

1. Tenoha Daikanyama, Shibuya, Japan

Popular among travelers, the Shibuya Scramble Crossing is one of Japan’s famous attractions. But within the commercial and business center is a chic space for not just foodies but also nature lovers, interior design hunters, health enthusiasts, and career hustlers.

destination retail in Japan


Tenoha Daikanyama, a complex filled with greenery and paths of cobblestones, includes a coffee shop, boutique, organic cafe, market, and coworking space. Situated in an open courtyard, the shops in Tenoha Daikanyama also holds regular workshops and events. For example, fitness instructors offering dietary advice and exercise videos to visitors.

2. The Store x Soho House, Berlin, Germany

Another genius that marries hospitality, food, and wellness, with art and retail is The Store, which is a part of yet separate from the members’ club and hotel, Soho House. A concept by British fashion expert Alex Eagle, The Store is an amalgamation of a lot of things, seamlessly put together by an industrial loft-style aesthetic and a creative agency vibe.

What’s inside The Store? There is a café, gallery, and retail nooks which include fashion brands, beauty parlor, home decors, magazines, books, and music. Billing itself as a cultural hub, The Store is a 2,800 sqm., all in one, destination retail heaven.

destination retail in germany


For the creative mind behind The Store, Alex Eagle shares, “We wanted to create a place where people could spend all day. A light, fresh and fun space where guests can shop, work, eat, drink and hang out. Like an open, shop-able private home for everyone to spend time and where everything is for sale from the candle burning, record playing to the sofa you sit on.”

3. Graanmarkt 13, Antwerp, Belgium

Another retail destination that combines hospitality with retail is Graanmarkt 13. Besides a restaurant and a high-end concept store, the townhouse also features lodging where people can actually stay in. The four-bedroom top floor apartment can be rented, and it is filled with products that can be purchased.

destination retail in belgium


Described as “a special house, a crossover place full of surprises,” the Graanmarkt 13 expands its story of creativity and inspiration beyond the streets of Antwerp. With branded products and services, and an online store, more people can see the beauty and sensibility behind the neo-classical façade of Graanmarkt 13.

4. Rockets & Rascals, United Kingdom

Targeting a niche community to attract both enthusiasts and novices is what makes Rockets & Rascals in England a winner at destination retail. Built around the hobby of, or passion for, biking, the bike emporium and café does not only provide a space for buying high-quality bikes, but also for creating a strong biking community.

destination retail in the UK


In fact, a lot of its reviews on TripAdvisor are praising its coffee and service, making it a great destination for cyclists, coffee lovers, and basically anyone who likes to spend a nice time in a vibrant, well-decorated space.

5. Graffiti Market, Ontario, Canada

Situated in Kitchener at Catalyst 137, the Graffiti Market is the first-of-its-kind smart dining destination. Its claim to fame? Internet of Thing-equipped table, doing away with handing out menus. Besides a restaurant, Graffiti Market also features a retail market, microbrewery, coffee roaster, and bakery.

graffiti market in canada


Combining food, culture, and technology, visitors of Graffiti Market gets to immerse themselves in games, art, and interactive views of food and drinks. Touching on community initiatives, the one-of-a-kind space also supports local arts through artist collaborations, live music, and charitable events.

Omnichannel Retail

The last example shows the significance of leveraging both online and physical retail to deliver exceptional customer experience. As destination retail comes to life, more retailers are going to focus on selling memories, not just products.

“Experiential retail through innovative digital and social media tech represents the most important part of the business.  Because anyone can sell duty free products, but [experiential retail] and providing that point of differentiation will make the difference between a winner and a loser in this business,” shared Jeffrey Davis, Merchandising Director Beauty, Lotte Duty Free.

Choose the Right Technology for Destination Retail

Bridging the gap between online and physical retail, one technology that hits the mark at delivering an omnichannel experience, enhancing both destination retail and online shopping, is visual search.

With an in-store smart mirror, for instance, shoppers can browse social media images and find similar items based on what they are trying on. Another smart device that enhances the physical store is smart tablet which helps staff with real-time inventory visibility to bring more intuitive and seamless customer experience.

Both powered by visual search, in-store smart mirror and tablet help customers create memories worth coming back for. Pair these in-store tools with a camera search feature on the website or app and intelligent image-based recommendation engines, retailers can provide a seamless customer experience and smooth buyer journey.

Consumers today are demanding more out of the shopping experience, and destination retail is becoming one of the powerful ways to provide what they are looking for. As digital solutions become increasingly available in the market right now, retailers have a lot of opportunities to win customers and stand out from the competition.

Ready to see how visual search works on your website or app? Check out Syte’s Buyer’s Guide to Visual AI for Retail to know what requirements to look for, explore available options, and keep track with a vendor evaluation process.