industry spotlight

Experiential Retail

Dive into experiential retail, where stores become interactive playgrounds, transforming how we shop.

Future of retailtainment

The experiential retail sector is scaling. The surge in demand for memorable experiences, personalized brand interactions, and the use of VR for try-ons is capturing investors’ attention due to the potential for robust profits. So, they are pouring money into innovative retail experiences that blur the lines between shopping and entertainment.

Why it matters:

Such investor and market dynamics provide vast possibilities for startups to capitalize on:

  • Gamification & interactive displays
  • AR/VR apps for trials
  • Pop-up shops & experiential events
  • Robotic assistants

Between the lines:

Prepare for high upfront costs, competition for novelty, customer trust issues, and the risk of trends fading quickly.

We’ve assisted multiple experiential retail startups and know how to build successful businesses that grab investor attention

Secured investments
Ventures assisted
Fields scrutinized

What we do:

We streamline fundraising, handle M&A transactions, and conduct robust go-to-market strategies and compelling pitch decks.

Go deeper:

Check out our experiential retail market research to learn more about the current market situation and what it takes to attract funding.

10x growth
The global experiential retail market is set for a tenfold rise by 2032.


Customers globally are now interested in trying cashierless checkout.

Driven by the demand for immersive, touch-and-try experiences that blur the line between online and physical retail

Millennials are drawn to pop-up shops because of their unique and temporary nature.


Customers are likely to engage with in-store robotic assistants for tasks like finding products or getting recommendations.


Consumers are actively seeking out in-store experiences when they shop.


In 2023, startups in the experiential retailing industry raised $0.929 billion in funds

Key verticals where funds flow:

  • Interactive displays and installations
  • Pop-up shops and concept stores
  • AI-powered consultants
  • Customization stations

Leading experiential retail venture capital firms

Write to us to know more

Setbacks in the experiential retail sector

We’ve spotlighted the major hurdles founders must overcome.

Differentiation hurdle:

In a world saturated with experiences, to create a stand-out idea that grabs customer attention is a constant battle.

Why it matters

Troubles with differentiation may lead to:

  • Low customer acquisition
  • Hindereded brand loyalty
  • Increased marketing costs
  • Limited scalability

What it takes:

  • Track and analyze customer behavior data to understand preferences and identify areas for improvement within the experience
  • Clearly communicate the value proposition to customers
  • Foster a sense of community within your store with events, workshops, or meetups that connect customers and the brand

Seamless tech integration:

Technology can be a powerful tool for creating immersive retail experiences, but glitches, crashes, and complicated interfaces can also be a source of frustration.

Why it matters

Inadequate tech integration means no:

  • Scalability
  • Customers trust
  • Robust funding

What it takes:

  • Utilize middleware like iPaaS to simplify communication between different systems. These platforms act as a translator, ensuring smooth data flow
  • Clear internal communication is needed to ensure all team members (developers, designers, product managers) understand the user experience goals and the role of each integrated technology
  • Consider external expertise from tech specialists who can provide guidance and troubleshooting

Access to funds:

Since experiential retail lacks traditional ROI (e.g. website traffic, sales conversions), it mostly relies on subjective factors like brand perception, customer engagement, and emotional connection, which may be a hurdle for investors to justify their investments.

Why it matters:

Without proper financing, founders will:

  • Have problems with a product launch (may be delayed)
  • Be unable to compete with more established companies
  • Face a higher risk of business failure
  • Meet higher operational costs

What it takes:

  • Start with a MVE that captures the core concept and gathers customer feedback to iterate quickly
  • Track and analyze data to see what’s working and what’s not
  • Craft a robust business plan with details on your business model, revenue streams, marketing strategies, and a growth planinvestor outreach strategy


Sustainability and ethical concerns:

Modern retail is no longer just about racks and displays. It’s more akin to theater, where every element is a part of a temporary installation—whether for decoration or interactive experiences it’s designed to capture attention. However, consumers are getting increasingly concerned about their purchases’ environmental and ethical impact.

Why it matters:

Mislead with sustainability and ethics means:

  • Damaged brand reputation
  • Hindered growth process
  • Legal or regulatory issues

What it takes:

  • Partner with ethical suppliers to fair labor practices and responsible sourcing standards
  • Communicate your sustainability efforts and showcase your initiatives to customers
  • Implement repair and reuse programs to extend the life of props and materials
  • Embrace digital signage or VR technology to optimize resource usage and reduce environmental impact


What is experiential retail?

Experiential retail is a type of retail that focuses on creating engaging and memorable in-store experiences for customers. It goes beyond browsing and buying products and incorporates interactive displays, workshops, and social events.

Which is the best example of experiential retail?

Two prime experiential retailing examples are Samsung 837 in NYC, an interactive playground featuring next-gen gaming stations and sustainable green space, and Lego stores with interactive building stations, life-size models, and areas for kids to play with sets.

How attractive is the industry to potential experiential retail investors?

Investors are keen on experiential retail as shoppers seek exciting, tech-driven experiences. Startups deliver with AR, interactive displays, and personalization, creating a win-win for both investors and shoppers.

If you are an experiential retail startup, how easy is it to raise funds today?

Given the competitive market, raising funds for an experiential retail startup can be tough. However, investors are still eager to back innovative ideas that offer unique customer experiences and show strong growth potential. Chances improve significantly if a startup has a clear, compelling vision and a solid business plan.

How long does it take to create a pitch deck and financial model for an experiential retail startup?

On average, we handle documentation in 2-3 weeks. But sometimes it might take around a month. Feel free to ask for more information.

What are the key mistakes in pitch decks in experiential retail startups?

Many pitch decks don’t tell a compelling story to attract investors. They miss out on explaining why they’ve chosen their market and the timing for it. Also, not showing who their competitors are can make investors hesitant if founders truly know how to stand out and bring profit.

How competitive is the experiential retail market?

The experiential retail market is a battleground, with established brands and startups fighting for customer attention through ever more immersive in-store experiences.

What services do you provide for investors looking to invest or already investing in the experiential retail sector?

We help investors identify promising experiential retail opportunities through thorough due diligence. Additionally, we support our partner fund’s portfolio companies in their fundraising efforts.

Do you provide experiential retail startup M&A support?

Sure thing! We guide M&A in the experiential retail industry and beyond, from finding deals to due diligence and post-deal collaboration.

Do you make intros to experiential retail startup VCs?

We help you reach the experiential retail VCs if your project matches their requirements concerning round size, team, and product. Our comprehensive investor relations package covers investor networking, preparation for initial meetings, and maintaining communication post-deal.

Do you have data or research available to purchase on the experiential retail market?

Our experts deliver insights on the experiential retail market, including industry analysis, competition assessments, and market overviews. Utilizing trusted data, we help you identify opportunities, challenges, and investment trends in this sector.

Which growth stage of companies have you worked with in the past?

Our core competency is guiding you from the Seed to Series B funding stages. However, we also support companies in pre-Seed and Series C+ growth stages, helping them forge ties with established companies and investment funds.

Have an experiential retail project in mind? We are here to help

From end-to-end fundraising support to M&A advisory and growth hacking, Waveup will help catapult your experiential retail project to new heights. Leave your email, and let's talk!

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