The internet has forever transformed the way people shop. Physical retail stores are in danger of being supplanted by digital marketplaces like Amazon. The majority of consumers today now go online for everything from banking and communication to shopping. Due to these developments, many business owners believe that adopting a digital strategy will stave off future losses. But the situation on the ground is a lot more complicated than that.
More than anything, customers value a good experience. To succeed in the retail business today, you need to find a way to integrate every aspect of the retail experience, from social media to physical stores to online shopping. Just because you’re investing in e-commerce doesn’t mean you can leave your physical stores in the dust. In fact, the physical store is still an essential component of the retail experience.
E-commerce may be convenient, but people still prefer to hold a product in their hands. And there’s nothing like a trip to the mall to get your mind off things. Tools such as DecoAR can help you create an immersive virtual experience, and if you integrate it with your physical store, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Here are a few strategies that will help you transform the in-store retail experience.
1. Create a community
Some of the biggest names in retail have created a community for their brand, allowing customers to reap the benefits of loyalty. In turn, the brand can easily engage with their core audience. For instance, if you run a grocery store, you can create an online hub where customers can access informational content, promotional exclusives, and company updates.
Consumer-centered communities are trendy in the sports industry. Businesses that sell specialized sports goods and apparel often attract enthusiasts with the promise of expert guidance, support, and access to exclusive events and classes. These activities help foster goodwill towards the brand and keep shoppers loyal and happy.
2. Make mobile work for you
We’ve all read articles saying that mobile shopping is the final nail in the coffin for physical retailers. Many people have sounded the alarm for years, but physical stores remain alive and kicking. You can make mobile work for you by designing an app that will augment the in-store experience. Some companies have designed apps that help drive traffic back to the store.
You can also make your store app work for your retail stores, whether through exclusive deals, store pickups, and functional tools. For instance, you can offer a special discount for customers who purchase through a physical outlet.
3. Cultivate a vibe
Physical stores aren’t just an outlet for goods. You can also utilize your retail locations to boost your brand and attract more people to your business. Designing a unique vibe and feel for your store can help transform consumer perceptions of your brand. Clothing retailers use this extensively, relying on lighting, scents, and music to create a unique experience.
For instance, businesses that target a younger demographic are turning to live music to attract shoppers. We’re seeing a trend where brands hire live DJs to imbue their retail spaces with a hip and vibrant atmosphere. Meanwhile, fashion and home furnishing businesses invest more in bigger and more complex window displays to attract affluent clientele.
4. Invest in your people
We all want our customers to feel comfortable when they shop in our stores. But I’m sure your competitors are doing the same thing as well. To set yourself apart from your rivals, you can add knowledge-sharing to the retail experience. One of the most famous examples is Apple’s Genius Bar. Consumers can walk into any Apple Store and expect fast and quality service from the employees.
You can apply the same concept to your own retail store, even if you don’t have Apple’s clout or resources. Department store chain J. C. Penney adopted a variation on the Genius Bar concept for their physical locations, with in-store associates helping customers with everything from decor to cooking.
Of course, to do that, you need to invest in your workforce as well. Invest in your people and transform your hiring policies from top to bottom. If you hire people who demonstrate a passion for sharing knowledge from the get-go, preparing them for the store floor will be easier.
A final word
These pointers will help you integrate the best of online and real-world experiences. Retailers today have to think of new and creative solutions to improve the customer’s retail experience. Don’t forget to ask for feedback from your customers. Only they can tell you whether your changes are working.