70% of our economy is driven by consumer spending. Mark Mathews, NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis, says “as long as you have a strong consumer, you have a strong position.” How do you create strong consumers for your store? By offering them a great experience.
Jill Standish of Accenture said at the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show that in this day and age, retailers need to think of themselves as customer-keepers, not shopkeepers. She continues that “people like to be around people. For many, going to the grocery store and going shopping are things that people like doing.” She says that first and foremost retailers need to think about who they are serving and what the value of servicing that customer is.
Involve Your Staff
“It’s never good to leave a customer feeling like they’re on their own once in the store,” says Hassan Alnassir, founder of kids toy business Premium Joy. “If you want to build brand loyalty and boost customer satisfaction, your shop personnel should offer assistance whenever they see customers confused or searching for something even without them seeking aid.” Hassan continues, “Providing personal attention to the customers proactively helps to create a pleasant in-store experience and minimize lost sales.”
“According to a national survey, almost 90% of store shoppers leave empty handed when they can’t find the help they need. If those shoppers have received the guidance required, 86% of them would have purchased even more than planned and 90% would shop at the same store next time.”
Know Your Clients Personally
Alan Au, Vice President, Co-designer, and stylist for Jimmy Au’s says creating a great immersive in-store experience requires gathering useful personal data. “Naturally, in clothing, knowing a client’s sizes helps to save time and allows us retailers to gather items currently available.” But, he says the important date to remember and collect are birthdays. “In our case, the client’s birthday, spouse’s birthday, then children if applicable. Other things we do to create a more immersive experience includes playing favorite genres of music when the client is there, or offering preferred snacks.”
Rethink Your Floor Plan
Keith Holmes, VP of Operations at BigRentz says that the layout of a store can have a big impact on the mindset of the consumer. Components like layout, floorplan, and merchandising can have psychological effects on shoppers. “The most important thing is to tell a story in your store and utilize all building features and optimize the senses to influence shopping behavior.”
Keith says that if you don’t use your space strategically, 50% of your floor space will never actually be browsed by shoppers. In order to set your store strategically, Keith recommends the following tips:
- High value products up front. This is important because customers determine the store’s value in the first 5-15 feet.
- Lead to the Right. 90 percent of customers turn right unconsciously when entering a store.
- Point to Powerwall Display with new products. Customers make a judgement about your brand within 90 seconds.
- Essentials at the back. Staple products will direct your customer to the back of the store.
- At least 4ft wide aisles. Shoppers will avoid entering an aisle where they will brush someone’s backside
- Small products near checkout. 27% of shoppers make additional purchases at the checkout.
- Put displays near aisles to slow down shoppers. Shoppers skip 20 percent of store merchandise due to long aisles
- High profit products at eye level. Items at eye level receive 35% more attention than products elsewhere.
- U-shaped or vignettes. Science shows that humans are naturally drawn to rounded shapes
- Product QR cards. 84% of shoppers use their smartphone to help shop in store.
Knowledge Equals Sales
Jordan Ekers, Chief Customer Officer of Nudge Rewards, recommends retailers can improve the in-store experience by closing the customer and employee experience gap with knowledgeable employees. “Today’s shoppers are armed with more information and expectations than ever before — not only on the products, but pricing and in-store promotions — and they’re looking to leverage that info to their advantage. In fact, 83% of shoppers think they know more about products and services than store associates.” Nudge Rewards call this the “experience gap” and it’s resulting in a damaging disconnect and missed opportunities that’s hurting brands.” Jordan says, “Retailers need make sure their Store associates must be equally armed to know as much as a customer and be able to upsell and provide a better in-store experience.”
Focus on Service
Part of what helps indie retailers stand out is the excellent service they provide. Kevin Gregory, Principal at Diamond Panther Studio says retailers should focus on providing a comprehensive experience. “The simplest answer is to do something to make your store stand out,” says Gregory. “You can do something big like hire a DJ for the soundtrack of the shopping experience or pair with a brand to provide beverage tastings to your customers. Little things also make a difference, you can diffuse scents into the space, create an art wall for those instagrammers, or even just train your staff.”
Personalizing each purchase is a great way to offer a unique experience, create value, and provide shoppers a one-of-a-kind experience. Jill Standish of Accenture says that customization options like having sewing machines in your store both “adds theater and prevents returns.” Whether a simple monogram or custom tailoring, creating a personalized product for shoppers on-demand can make your space a destination as much as a storefront.
At the NRF’s BIG Show,, Chip and Joanna Gaines, store owners turned HGTV stars, said when they opened their first housewares store, they realized “it wasn’t about pushing candles, it was about the experience.” Joanna said “we want them to leave feeling hopeful and inspired.” Leave your shoppers inspired to spend by creating an immersive in store experience.