Online shopping may be a welcome convenience, but the in-store shopping experience, which can’t be completely duplicated online, is what many people are ultimately after.
In fact, in an age of online shopping, going to a favorite retailer can be an event in itself—something special that helps people unplug and actually experience shopping rather than scrolling through endless web pages.
At the same time, people remain “connected” while they’re shopping at a retailer. They’re not going to leave their phones at home. Therefore, making today’s retail experience memorable and enjoyable requires some degree of bridging the physical and digital worlds. Here are five creative ways retailers can boost in-store engagement.
1. Remove Friction from the Shopping Process
When someone selects products to buy, you don’t want any more than necessary standing between the customer and the purchase. While traditional checkout counters are still most people’s first choice, offering other checkout methods can elevate the shopping experience. Mobile self-pay is one option, and a sales associate with a Square-equipped tablet, helping shoppers right on the sales floor is another. The fewer steps between the customer and the completed sale, the better.
2. Acknowledge the Outside World
Some retailers offer little niceties, like snacks, to make customers feel extra welcome. Others may take their cues from what is going on outside, offering free cups of hot chocolate or coffee on snowy days, or cold lemonade on hot days. It’s a small, but meaningful way of acknowledging what customers are dealing with and letting them know you understand.
3. Upgrade the Fitting Room Experience
“Smart” fitting rooms aren’t affordable for all retailers, but any store that sells clothing should make fitting rooms as pleasant as possible, with good lighting, good mirrors, and easy access to sales associates to help with different sizes or colors. The sales associate who asks customers what they liked or didn’t like about an item is poised to offer other product recommendations. This not only improves the chances of a sale, but it also demonstrates that your brand is invested in customers and what’s best for them.
4. Make the Shopping Experience Sharable on Social Media
A retail environment that is unique, clean, and attractive, with great lighting and perhaps other unique features, offers the perfect opportunity for customers to share their experiences online. Perhaps you have a gorgeous mural or backdrop that’s perfect for taking selfies in front of. Or maybe a skylight lets in natural daylight that makes everyone look good enough for a quick social media picture. Simple “extras” like these, plus free Wi-Fi encourage your customers to share their experiences with others.
5. Commit to Exceptional Customer Service
Finally, and most importantly, exceptional customer service is essential for maximizing the in-store experience. However beautiful your store, however “smart” your fitting rooms, and however advanced your check-out technology, people won’t want to come back if your customer service is lacking. Great customer service training is key, along with practice and coaching by your best sales associates. If you have to invest in one single thing to upgrade the in-store experience, invest in outstanding customer service, because without it, the other steps won’t matter nearly as much.
In-store retail is far from dead, because there are some things that you simply can’t shop for effectively online. When people make the trek to a favorite retailer, they’re looking for more than just merchandise. They want the entire experience to be positive. The retailers that ensure that it is are the retailers that will successfully bridge online and in-store shopping, making the most of both worlds. Hangar12 is at the forefront of CPG marketing strategy and more. Subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date with our latest insights.