What is a better retail experience really worth to your shoppers? According to one PWC survey, it could be as much as an extra 16% in sales.
A recent Accenture survey supports PWC’s findings, showing that consumers who have a negative retail experience are three times less likely to purchase from a brand again.
The good news is that companies who consistently deliver on consumer expectations can increase revenues by charging premium prices for a better experience.
What Does a Standout Retail Experience Look Like?
While online shopping has grown leaps and bounds and is expected to account for 10% of all retail sales in 2020, there’s still a considerable demand among shoppers to make purchases in-store. Ironically, our digital age has increased our desire for immediacy, and there’s nothing more immediate than being able to make a purchase in person.
But simply having the right products or being in the right place at the right time isn’t enough to win over modern shoppers. Nearly 47% of shoppers claim that a poor retail experience would deter them from visiting a location again.
Retailers who are committed to maintaining a strong brick and mortar presence should look beyond product offering alone and focus more on the holistic shopping experience.
Three out of four consumers want more human interaction. We’re living in a world where chatbots, email, and online shopping have become the norm, and they’re simply not delivering on the customer experience most shoppers desire.
For the majority of PWC’s survey respondents, a positive in-store retail experience can be more influential than great branding or advertising.
Your customers know what great service looks like. Today’s buyer wants personalized service, fast service, and the ability to seamlessly switch between channels. They crave the human element and will gladly speak to a real person versus a chat bot, any day.
These benefits are usually innately present in in-store shopping, but companies should take care to remember how important they are to the overall experience.
Speed and efficiency top the list of customer expectations who shop in store, but convenience comes in many forms, from knowledgeable employees to a healthy inventory of products and easy price checking processes.
To complement the growing interest in digital channels, retailers are starting to offer in-store services like ordering online and picking up in-store, curbside carryout, and ordering online from in-store self-service kiosks, among others.
66% of consumers feel that technology has helped to improve the in-store experience and can help combat some of customers’ biggest frustrations of shopping in person — namely price checking and finding product reviews.
In terms of just how valuable convenience is, PWC shows that 43% of shoppers are willing to pay more for all-around convenience, while 41% of shoppers admit they’d pay more for knowledgeable employees.
The general vibe of a store can impact how customers perceive their retail experience. Everything from visual displays and background music to the presence or absence of sales floor personnel can convey information about your image and company values.
Research shows that your store’s ambiance can influence a customer’s mood, behavior, and ultimately their buying decisions. Engaging all the senses can help you craft a stronger brand and influence the way customers perceive your store. Focus on scent, visuals, good lighting, and general cleanliness and organization.
What Retailers Can Do to Provide a Better In-Store Retail Experience
It’s clear that a subpar in-store experience isn’t enough to attract and retain loyal customers. Retailers will need a dose of creativity in developing unique experiences that will keep their buyers coming back. Let’s look at what other retailers are doing to engage their shoppers and give them something to look forward to that online channels simply can’t compete with.
The Treasure Hunt Experience
TJ Maxx has mastered the art of the treasure hunt. An eclectic inventory with limited quantities makes it feel like a new store every time, and creates a sense of urgency for shoppers to purchase now. It also helps that their off-price model makes everything in the store seem like a good deal, further fueling impulse buys as items may not linger for long.
German-based grocery stores Aldi and Lidl have also included treasure hunts in their in-store experiences. Aside from general grocery items, each store has a dedicated section of “special buys,” from clothing items and handbags to cookware and home goods — things you won’t typically find in a specialty grocery store. Here in Canada, Joe Fresh and Pc do something similar in grocery chains like Fortinos or Real Canadian Superstores.
Smaller boutiques can put this same concept to work on a small scale, dedicating sections of the store (or your entire business model) to special interest items that will surprise and delight shoppers with every visit.
The “New Store Every Time”
Speaking of new things every time, Manhattan’s STORY is continually reinventing itself with specially curated collections of goods centered on a unique theme. The store reflects a magazine-quality design to feature items from high-end brands. Each theme lasts 6-8 weeks before transforming into something different, and the results are always impactful.
If you’re a small retailer wanting to try this concept for yourself, a hosting one or two pop-ups is a great way to ‘get your feet wet’ and gauge the response from existing and new customers.
The Community Experience
In a world where many rely on digital connections, bringing people together in a physical space can be satisfying and refreshing. Hosting an in-store event, class, or workshop can encourage people to gather and linger, all while creating a buzz and seeing your brand fill the social media feeds of participants.
Or, you can simply create a hangout for creatives or other like-minded people who can relax and enjoy your space.
The Experiential Retail Experience
One of the greatest benefits of shopping in store is having the tangible, physical aspect of shopping within your reach. Shoppers still prefer the ability to try on clothes or hold and test products before they buy, and stores can turn themselves into interactive showrooms to spur foot traffic.
Lush Cosmetics is a prime example of experiential shopping. Their layout is reminiscent of a deli or grocery store where you can pick up or touch items as you browse. Large water-filled sinks show off the power of their bath bombs, while staff offer live demonstrations of how the products work.
There’s no doubt that customer experience is a trifecta of great service, convenience, and ambiance, and these three elements feed into each other to keep customers coming back. For more retail insights, head back to our blog.
WANT TO TAKE YOUR IN-STORE EXPERIENCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
At CBSF, our knowledge of and expertise in retail design has benefited countless retailers, from small businesses to large-scale chains looking to grow from 3 stores to 50, and beyond. If you’re ready to execute on plans to take your next store location to a whole new level, contact us today and learn more about how we can help you create a better retail experience.