More than 1 billion shoppers find the products and services they need and want online today. It has become increasingly difficult to get customers into a physical store and even harder to keep them engaged long enough to make a purchase. The good news is, with the right techniques, you can improve the overall in-store experience to bring in customers and keep them coming back.
Set the Mood
A strong first impression is a critical element in a customer’s in-store experience. Set the mood with a front window display to catch the attention of potential shoppers. Rely on lighting, color choice and strategic product placement for maximum impact. When customers enter the store, a friendly greeting from an associate is important. Your customers want to feel welcomed and confident the sales associates can answer questions/make suggestions about products. Aspects that turn off customers include dimly lit displays, dirty or cluttered floors, loud background music and unpleasant odors.
Because it’s easy to order anything online — from any device, anytime and anywhere — it’s essential to give customers something that’s only available in a physical store. A personal touch is needed. Employee attitude is key and has the power to make or break a sale. It also is a factor in building long-term relationships with customers. Give your shoppers one-on-one human interaction with a sales associate who is personable, helpful and knowledgeable about items in-store as well as those available from your online site.
Child-Friendly Is a Plus
Many families opt to shop online because it’s easier than navigating a physical store while wrangling their kids. If you can make the shopping experience less chaotic and more kid-friendly, they’re likely to come into the store to make purchases. IKEA does a great job of creating a small area where kids can play, read or color, while parents shop in peace. Give parents a pleasant, calm in-store experience where their children are entertained, and they are encouraged to return for future purchases.
No one likes to wait too long in line for anything — especially to make a purchase. Improving the checkout process is one of the simplest but smartest ways to make the overall in-store experience better. Make sure multiple registers are open during the busiest times and, when possible, offer self-checkout. Mobile registers are another option, ideal during the holiday season or on special product release days. Keep customers in line engaged by having an associate pre-scan items, hand out coupons or direct the flow of traffic.
Offer Special Events
When customers take the time to come into the store, they often want a unique experience, something they can’t get when shopping online.
Consider special events such as:
- Product demonstrations and interactive displays
- Specialty classes
- Community or charity fundraisers
- Entertainment such as live music or a celebrity meet-and-greet
- Fashion shows
Level Up Visual Merchandising
Take your visual merchandising to the next level to showcase products in a way that can’t be duplicated online. Use the rule of three to create aesthetically pleasing displays that appeal to desires versus needs. Group items by three — whether it’s three of the same product or three related items. Keep displays uncluttered, well-lit and be sure to change them regularly.
In general, shoppers won’t shy away from using technology to enhance their in-store experience. Interactive or touchscreens placed in displays can offer a memorable shopping experience, additional product information, allow shoppers to browse available products, or provide a short demo video. Connect your online and physical store — whether it’s a kiosk the customer can access or make it available via the tablets your associates may carry when on the floor.
You work hard to get customers into your physical store; don’t let them walk out unhappy and without a conversion. It takes multiple techniques to create the ultimate in-store experience for new shoppers as well as your loyal customers. The in-store experience is what keeps your customers happy today and returning tomorrow.
About the author:
Robin Brower is Senior Vice President of Business Development at OPTO, where she leads the design and business development teams. Brower built the design department from scratch in 1983 and has been the organization’s lead designer for the past 35 years.