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The next generation of retail is here: Part 3

Exploring innovation for an enhanced experience.

In April’s ‘Big Picture’ column, I described the three key innovations and themes that are reshaping the retail landscape in 2024.  Last month I took a deeper dive into the first theme: Innovation for a better world. This month’s column will explore the second theme: Innovation for an enhanced experience. 

What does this mean?

Experience leaders curate a differentiated, memorable and immersive retail and brand experience. In many cases, these concepts foster an interactive community surrounding the products they sell. 

Hosted events, premium services and product personalization opportunities all draw shoppers into branded channels and formats. In the Global Retail Trends and Innovations 2024 eBook, more than half of the featured examples fall under this category, which is a testament to the enduring relevance and renewed focus on physical channels and formats.

Here's how some retailers are innovating for an enhanced experience.

Sevierville, Tennessee, United States - 5 January 2024: Two people at the sweets stand at Buc-ee's.
Sevierville, Tennessee, United States - 5 January 2024: Two people at the sweets stand at Buc-ee's.


Buc-ee's, renowned for its expansive gas stations and friendly service, opened the world's largest convenience store in Tennessee in 2023, spanning 74,000 sq. ft., with 120 gas pumps and 350 employees. Unlike typical gas stations, Buc-ee's transforms the experience into a destination with fresh prepared foods, private label snacks like Beaver Nuggets, and a vast gift shop. Its iconic beaver mascot and extensive billboards along highways draw in road-trippers, elevating the brand beyond a mere pit stop. With about 60 locations primarily in Texas and plans to expand across the South, Buc-ee's has redefined the concept of gas stations as engaging, memorable destinations for travellers.

Walgreens order pick up area
Photo: Supplied
Walgreens order pick up area
Photo: Supplied


Walgreens has transformed a Downtown Chicago location into a "digital-first experiential store" by implementing a new format that emphasizes online ordering for non-essential merchandise. Shoppers are directed to touchscreen kiosks and the online app for ordering, reducing in-store product display to only essential items, such as snacks and travel-sized goods. The bulk of merchandise is stored out of sight and accessed by associates to combat organized retail crime and theft. This 'better Walgreens' model enhances customer experience with a sleek, inviting interior and efficient service. By embracing technology, Walgreens aims to tackle security challenges, while enhancing the shopping process with streamlined ordering and improved store capacity.

La Cofradía Mercat Social  interior shot
Photo: Kiss Retail

La Cofradía

La Cofradía Mercat Social, a local grocery store in Barcelona established in 2022, offers a unique experience centered around slow food and community engagement. Spanning just 100 m2 on a pedestrian street, it features a curated selection of local food, wines, flowers, and artisanal gifts. Sustainability is integral to their ethos, seen in their product choices, packaging, and reusable tote bags. The store's modern artisanal decor, using reused materials, enhances the inviting atmosphere. Staff are knowledgeable and encourage conversation, fostering a community feel. Notably, a subscription program offers discounted prices, and regular events connect consumers with producers, emphasizing shared learning and enjoyment. La Cofradía blends commerce with community, creating a welcoming space for locals and visitors alike.

Stay tuned! Next month we will examine on the third theme: Innovation for hyper-efficiency

To read more about these case studies and many more, download your free copy of our Global Retail Trends and Innovations 2024 HERE.

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