It’s no secret that the retail industry is in a constant state of transformation. As businesses continue to move online and brands become more socially conscious, the way we shop both online and in person is changing faster than ever.

While e-commerce booms in the background, physical spaces are evolving from transaction centers to experience centers. Small brands are renting affordable floorspace to craft custom brand experiences. Established companies are using their brick-and-mortar presence to give veteran customers a larger-than-life experience of their identity. Meanwhile, the mall is evolving into a destination that offers not only a day of entertainment but, in some cases, a complete family vacation.

This means there are endless possibilities for brands that are open to Retail Innovation. Retailers large and small are trying new ideas to adapt to the modern consumer. If you are looking for new approaches to creating retail experiences, here are five innovative brick-and-mortar retail solutions that are guaranteed to inspire you.

1. American Dream Meadowlands

Almost two decades in the making, this 3-million-square-foot mega-mall is on track to open in late summer, 2019. Located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, it is an experiential complex that blends entertainment and retail to meet the needs of the modern consumer. In a testament to the evolving future of the industry, it is segmented into 55% entertainment and 45% retail. Developers expect tourism visits to account for at least 50% of total traffic. Highlights include an indoor ski and snowboard park, ice-climbing wall, luxury hotel and convention space, beauty and spa facilities, and flagship locations of the world’s leading brands.

2. Apple Piazza Liberty IN Milan

Image source: Apple

Bringing Apple’s newest designs to Italy for the first time, Apple’s Milan location boasts a public piazza above the store. Just entering the store feels like an experience at a public monument or an art installation. Visitors descend into an inset plaza lined with trees and then walk behind a water feature to enter the store. Setting the tone for Apple’s innovative plans to tie brand experience into local culture, Milanese musician L I M performed in the piazza for the store’s grand opening. Apple also worked with 21 local artists to design tote bags for attendees.

3. Casper Pop-Up Shops

Casper got its start selling mattresses online with a direct-to-customer (DTC) retail model. Like many other successful DTC brands, Casper found an unorthodox—and much less expensive—way to expand into brick-and-mortar. Just as selling directly to customers hugely reduces overhead costs for small brands, innovative brick-and-mortar solutions are allowing these brands to expand offline. Casper’s popup locations offer customers 45-minute sleep sessions for $25, including earplugs and bathrobes. It’s a purely experiential solution where customers simply try out the product for themselves.

4. LEGO

Offering creative building scenarios and group building events each month, LEGO brick-and-mortar spaces act as community centers. While LEGO fans already share builds online and through the LEGOLife app, nothing beats physical space when it comes to creative collaboration. By linking itself to the social lives of customers, the brand draws fans more deeply into LEGO culture and builds brand loyalty.

5. House of Vans in London

Image source: House of Vans

This one-of-a-kind space is designed to transform a traditional shoe store into an immersive experience of music, art, and community. Complete with premium dining and bars, skate park, cinema and music venue, the space hosts major live events on weekends as well as a wide range of educational and learning activities.

In light of all these retail experiences, it is clear that a brand isn’t just a commodity—it is a choice people make about how to spend their time. Brands will need to look at experiential branding as a form of “offline media”—the physical portion of a blended online-offline identity. In addition, consumers are increasingly seeking brands that reflect their values and lifestyle. Brands can build trust and long-term engagement with a strategy focused on relationship marketing.

To succeed in the new retail landscape, retailers will need to commit to an ongoing process of trial and error to craft experience centers that evolve in real time, and meet the ever-changing needs of their customers.

If you are ready to learn this process and explore the future of immersive retail experiences, check out our Innovative Retail Merchandising Professional Certificate to learn more about how you can create a brand that better connects with your customers.

Read more > Columbia Online Launches 4 New Professional Certificates