October comes to a close next week, which means Dreamforce 2017 is just around the corner (and this year, it’s in the new and improved Moscone Center!). As we prepare for the event—one of San Francisco’s biggest and most innovative conferences of the year—we’ve been thinking about where visiting retailers can go to get some customer experience inspiration.Below, we showcase five shops here in the Bay that are providing uniquely stellar experiences for their customers. We think that all retailers can learn at least a little something from what each of these brands is doing. And if you happen to be in town for the big show in a couple of weeks, we recommend stopping by one or all of these unique brick-and-mortar experiences to really get a feel for what they’re accomplishing.
OJ and coffee, the sounds of birds chirping, and comfortable Casper mattresses to wake up in—er, test out.Casper’s pop-up is meant to give customers an authentic, up-close-and-personal experience with the brand’s products. Customers can ‘book a nap’ to try out mattresses and speak with a ‘snooze specialist’ about which bedding will best fit their particular needs. There are four ‘nap pods’ modeled after birdhouses, and the space is designed to keep visitors in a perpetual state of early morning bliss. And in keeping in line with San Francisco’s eco-friendly vibes, the pop-up also offers a trade-in program: customers can bring in their old pillows, sheets, or blankets to be reused or recycled, and in return, they’ll receive $15 to use towards new Casper products. Talk about knowing your audience!2174 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Even though the company is based out of SF, this is B8ta’s first physical location in the city. There’s plenty to see and do here, from toying around with robots to trying out VR devices, and customers are encouraged to try out as many products as they’d like before making any purchases. “It’s a really bad experience as a consumer to put money down first,” co-founder Vibhu Norby told CNBC.The concept of B8ta is a particularly cool one: the store offers a brick-and-mortar home for innovative products that wouldn’t otherwise have one. Instead of relying solely on online sales, the creators of these small-scale tech products rent physical retail space so that consumers can try things out before they buy. This gives them more visibility as ‘makers’ while also offering customers a frictionless omnichannel shopping experience.590 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
At this Hayes Valley shop—one of just three physical Away locations—consumers have the chance to get a genuine look at and feel for the brand’s luggage line. Beyond that, customers can chat with in-store experts and customize their choices to end up with the perfect fit for any trip. To complement their luggage purchases, customers can also shop for destination guidebooks, travel-size amenities, and other getaway goodies.A well-known D2C luggage brand, Away Travel prides itself on making the perfect suitcase—building and delivering what customers want, from an unbreakable hard shell to built-in USB chargers. By investing in physical retail spaces where customers can come in and shop the cases in person, Away is proving that it is committed to providing great customer experiences across channels.371 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Online cult favorite Dolls Kill has its first foray into the real world with this brick-and-mortar spot in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Because the brand prides itself on being a bit of a middle finger to traditional fashion ‘norms’, we can only assume it chose its location—long associated with its counterculture history—on purpose. In fact, the physical store’s premiere collection, called ‘In Dust We Trust’, arrived just in time for many city residents’ favorite time of year: Burning Man.For those who see their fashion sense in one of Dolls Kill’s style personas—ultimate fembot Coco, occult maven Mercy, laid-back Willow, bad bitch Darby, or raver kid Kandi—this Haight Street hotspot (opening day saw lines around the block) makes the perfect anti-Dreamforce Dreamforce stop.1475 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Minted’s SF shop brings the online photo design studio to life. Customers who want to create customized holiday cards, wall art, or wedding invitations can make an appointment at the one-on-one stylist bar and receive an array of services tailored just for them.What Minted is doing with their pop-up stylist studio is fairly simple—it’s similar to their online experience except more hands-on and personable—but it’s just as impactful. For example, stylists will help you design the perfect holiday card for your specific photo, create a Minted address book and address your envelopes for you, and even hand-assemble your cards to your exact specifications, down to your preferred stamps. These personal touches go above and beyond what you can find online to create one-of-a-kind experiences that customers are sure to remember for holiday seasons to come.222 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108For these five SF shops, creating incredible physical experiences that customers love is a top priority—it helps encourage even more brand love and loyalty. To learn more about what today’s shoppers are looking for—and how you can gain more loyalty from them by curating your own unique experiences—be sure to check out our State of Post-purchase consumer report.
Heather is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Narvar and has been working in the SF tech world for over 6 years. She has a bachelor's degree from CSU Long Beach and an MFA in writing from California College of the Arts.