Yet another company is refreshing its stores in a bid to keep shoppers engaged and coming back for the experience — not just the products sold there.
Fabric and crafts retailer Joann, having been around for more than 70 years and now running more than 800 shops across the U.S., is rolling out a new store prototype this week in hopes of keeping consumers around even if they aren't buying anything.
The goal for many companies today is to create a memorable experience and a place where customers can do things — rather than just focusing on ringing up sales. The industry is evolving as e-commerce brands are attracting more attention and threatening those retailers that have a stronger footing in bricks and mortar. Amazon and other websites are stealing market share from smaller brands that don't differentiate themselves.
"We consider ourselves more than just a place to buy things," Jill Soltau, CEO of privately held Joann Stores, told CNBC. "We want to bring people together. ... We want to learn."
A redesigned Joann store, which will open first near the Hudson, Ohio-based company's headquarters, includes a studio to host events and craft classes, touchscreen kiosks that pull up craft projects from Pinterest, and a custom sewing service. The company said it also hopes the store will serve as a hub for local artists looking for a space to share their work.
"This is just the first step," Soltau said about Thursday's opening. The goal is to bring the concept to other cities once Joann is able to work through any kinks to the model, she added.
Below is a closer look at Joann's new concept shop for fabric and crafts.
A large, open space in the new shop will be reserved for holding classes and community events. Situated in the middle of the store, it's positioned to be a new draw to Joann and a reason to visit more frequently.
Shoppers will be able to enjoy a cup of coffee in the studio and even rent out sewing machines or other tools for their own projects. "Our customers are very tech-forward, and we've been working to enhance the store experience with them," Soltau said.
Loyal shoppers often come to a location to have fabric cut specifically for them. The redesigned store will feature a bar where shoppers can check in via a mobile device and keep shopping until the material is ready for them.
Joann's revamped location in Ohio will now include an expanded assortment of merchandise, with more candle-making supplies, fine arts materials and additional sewing machine brands. Soltau said Joann works to get "all the top brands" with a better best price range that meets a slew of shoppers' budgets.
The shop features concierge services for sewing, suit tailoring and tweaks to home decor. Joann will also have personal shoppers on hand to walk with a customer throughout the store. The goal is for the shopping experience to be much more personal and tailored to each customer's needs, the company said.