Listen to myself, Tim Radley, on the Louise Lally podcast, discussing the much vaunted but little understood concept of ‘Experiential Retailing!’

Join the free podcast now through this link…Retailing with Meaning Ep1 Store Concepts (

The podcast features a discussion on Hotel Chocolat, a brand that not only transformed the ways to create, package and display chosolate, but also revolutionised the vertical supply chain behind the beans.

Hotel Chocolat is experiential retailing on every single level.

First and foremost, it is a chocolate innovator. The brand invented the now much-copied slabs of chocolate with their murals in shades of brown, and white, adorned with candies and fruits. On another wall are the pick ‘n’ mix selector packs, the dynamic incarnation of everything that is delicious and popular in chocolate in a living wall of fame.

Beyond the chocolate, the many fans of Hotel Chocolat have been able to join its membership taster clubs and receive monthly samples of new products. It has around 100,000 members and has trialed over 1,500 different recipes. Whilst a highlight of winter evenings is to receive chocolate discovery packs, and chocolate parties in a box.

The business also runs classes in several of its cafes where customers can learn how to make and style their own chocolate creations and host parties for their friends and families. Truly inspirational, and experiential.

And above all Hotel Chocolat creates a chain of people, from the growing of the beans to the shop colleagues, who are all totally passionate and inspired by the brand. The ‘Passion Supply Chain.’ The company achieved this through evolving a vertically integrated structure. In 2006, the company acquired the Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia. It is the only company in the UK to own its own cocoa plantation. Over a hundred new jobs have been created since the estate’s opening, and with prices guaranteed to be 30–40% above the world market price of cocoa, as well as being paid within a week of selling their crops, local farmers are provided with a secure income, and become passionate ambassadors for the brand.

So, take a listen to the podcast, discover Hotel Chocolat possibly in a new light, and understand the importance of the ‘Passion Supply Chain’ in delivering Experiential Retailing.

I’ll also explain and illustrate with best practice examples, the many ways that shop experiences can be created, the balance of people and technology, product interaction, the importance of knowing what type of type of experience your customer wants, and most of all how to be genuine & authentic.

Topics in the interview include:

‘What does Experiential Retailing’ mean, and how do you evolve this for your own business?’

‘What actually is a good retail experience, and is it the same for every retailer, and for each customer?’

Why Authenticity is the saviour of the high street, and not experiential retailing alone!

Are retailers born, or can they be made? Can experiential retail be effective if it is not genuine?

Why the ‘Passion Supply Chain’ is so important for all retail businesses to develop!

The four elements of new shop concepts – ‘The Shopper Paradise,’ ‘The Collection Crossroads,’ ‘The Community Hub,’ and ‘The Business Centre!’

Why successful experiences only come through the balance of ‘People & Technology!’

This is the first of 4 exclusive interviews Tim is giving during October. Other interviews cover:

  • Visual merchandising & Shop theatre
  • The new world for Retail people
  • Sustainability & ethical retailing

In the meantime…

‘Experiential Retailing’ is featured in the new book – ‘Meaning in the Retail Madness – How to be an Essential Retailer’

If you’d like to read my book for many more retailer insights and best practice. And to here my thoughts on retail’s future, then that’s an excellent idea.

'Meaning in the Retail Madness: How to be an Essential Retailer' Out now. Available worldwide across amazon and popular online booksellers