I was recently in Maine, so naturally (pun intended), I dragged my friends with me to the L L.Bean store in Freeport. It’s open 24hrs a day, 7 days a week – so a post-dinner 11PM drop-by was no problem. Spanning a whopping 96,100 square feet, I was excited to see what customer experiences lay within!

Here are a few highlights: big aquarium (a delight for my friend, who’s never witnessed fish sleeping), separate pond with fish, massive moose taxidermy, and a faux hill on which to test hiking boots. These were interesting and pretty on-brand. Also, probably not cheap to create.

But again, over 96K feet of space! I admit I was expecting something more experiential. Here’s the opportunity to deliver the best of nature in a contained environment. How about fishing rods placed around the pond, so customers can try one out? A small boat to actually cross the pond to get to the Hiking department would be pretty cool (it also might spur me to consider a new purchase).

Traditional merchandisers served up racks upon racks of clothing. But what if we cleared some of those out, and opened space for something that might be described as “performance art meets demo”? 1-2 people pitching and taking down a tent would have drawn attention, and removed the anxiety of “buying a new tent I may not be able to assemble”.

And then, on to my favorite subject: OMO. What if Online could meet Offline in this vast space? QR codes placed in key locations could tell relevant and useful stories about the products. VR experiences could help customers get a sense for how stuff feels in context – what’s more tactile than outdoor living?

I don’t at all mean to come across as disparaging. I did walk away with two pairs of boots. It’s just, I think there’s more we can all do to create memorable, delightful customer experiences… and along the way, introduce products in a wonderful new way.