Situ Live’s storytelling is augmenting physical retail

category - customer experience
type - big idea
Big Idea
category - ar
sector - media & technology
sector - retail
Situ Live chief operating officer John Emmerson describes how its home-like retail venue and storytelling staff give technology and lifestyle brands a direct line to shoppers

Let’s begin with Situ Live – why was it launched and what is it solving in the retail sector?

Situ Live is very much a vision of our founder Warren Richmond, who identified a number of challenges that both brands and shoppers had with the current retail model. From a brand’s perspective, getting into physical retail can be expensive, inflexible and they don’t always own the relationship with their end users. From a shopper’s perspective, we go into shops and are met with shelves of products not doing anything. Furthermore, often when you ask a traditional retail adviser for assistance, you’re met with disinterest, a lack of product education or a combination of both. That doesn’t do the adviser, retailer or the brand any favours.

So, Situ Live is allowing brands to showcase their products in the way they would like to, giving shoppers the flexibility to try new products in a live retail environment. It’s a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model of connecting shoppers with brands, allowing them to fall in love with the brand, then have a relationship with that brand by purchasing directly from them.

Can you describe the typical customer journey?

We describe ourselves as a discovery playhouse – we’ve recreated a domestic environment with a living room, kitchen, home gym, and then we add products in a similar way to what you would experience at home. We have targeted household brands like Facebook, Bosch and Fitbit, but also many smaller innovation-led brands like Lumie or Yoto, which people might be new to.

When a customer walks in, they might meet our demonstrators, who use the art of everyday storytelling to bring products to life. Then we have what we call editorial storytelling ­– we currently have 17 stories we tell – led by actors who use a mix of products from various brands. We might, for example, tell a story in the connected lounge about movie night, drawing the curtains, dimming the lights and turning the tv on. Then the actor will flip it and say: ‘Well, you might want to have a games night with your family,’ to then showcase different products. The stories are refreshed every six weeks, so customers have a different experience every time.

Published by:

9 November 2021

Author: Kathryn Bishop

Image: Situ Live, UK


Situ Live, UK

Was it a conscious decision to design the venue like a home?

Certainly. The venue addresses the major considerations of the average human over 24 hours. So, each day we consider how we relax at home, how we sleep, play, how we eat, exercise and how we work. With these considerations in mind, we've created a venue filled with products that have innovations in sustainability and wellbeing at their core and therefore can help the shopper lead a better life every day. The venue aims to reflect the current trends that the average consumer is looking towards.

Situ Live’s demonstrators and actors aren’t traditional sales people. How did you recruit them?

We based our recruitment purely on personality, using mainly creative channels to try and attract people, as well as working with some micro-influencers – we want to try and encourage people to use us as a platform to grow their own careers. We invited groups of about 20 candidates to spend a few hours with us doing various activities; for example, team-building or telling stories about a product they loved, observing how they interacted with people. Those we selected were chosen on the basis of their reflection of our four core values: curiosity, caring, truthfulness and simplicity. It didn’t matter if they hadn’t worked in retail before.

How are purchases made through Situ Live?

We guide the shopper on a digital path to purchase. Every product in the venue is merchandised with a little [sign] with the product name, brand name and a QR code – there are no prices or tech specifications. This points the shopper towards our digital platform; if they scan the QR code, they land on a product information page with the specifications, price and what the product can do for them. We also interpret things more simply: for example, headphones don’t weigh 750g in weight, they’re described as ‘light’ or ‘heavy’.

‘In an earlier iteration we didn’t have a working from home section, but during the pandemic that became fundamental. We will continually tailor our venue model as lifestyle trends change’

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