When it comes to the retail sector these days, it might seem as though bad news has been brewing for quite some time due to the rise of e-commerce. Traditional brick-and-mortar outlets have felt the consumer shift towards online shopping, and even big-box stores and iconic brands have been partially shutting down across the nation. But this doesn’t mean that in-store shopping is destined to become extinct. Read to find out more!
In fact, the increase in online shopping has magnified the most critical differentiator between internet and in-person consumerism: experience.
Online shopping connects customers with products in an efficient manner, true. A consumer can quickly and easily click around a website, add items into a virtual shopping cart, and have their order shipped directly to their home. This saves time and saving time always saves money. But this form of shopping also saves the consumer from something that they actually do not want to be saved from—having tactile contact with products and socio-personal interactions with store personnel, both of which contribute to an overall positive shopping experience.
FACT: According to Google, 61% of consumers would rather shop with brands that have a physical location than with brands that are online only.
Radical as it might sound, human beings like encountering other human beings! Humankind wasn’t designed to sit in front of a computer alone and navigate the pre-programmed annals of the Sears website two nights before Christmas. E-commerce has stripped shopping of the biggest psychological benefit of shopping, namely emotional engagement.
Brick and mortal retail shopping isn’t dying, it’s changing, and this article will show you how to change with it, amplify the customers’ overall experience, and make the most out of every interaction you and your store personnel have with shoppers.
FACT: Nearly 80% of shoppers go in-store when there is an item they need or want immediately.
If you want to consider the most cost-effective ways to keep the lifeblood of your retail store pumping, you first need to identify what precisely constitutes that lifeblood. Yes, it’s your customers, but challenge yourself to think deeper than that. Right now, in the digital age, this side of 2020, the lifeblood of retail in all industry across the board is millennials.
The millennial generation is projected to account for 30% of retail expenditures in 2020, and this estimate is based on their previously established spending habits. In the past five years, millennials have spent approximately $200-billion per year, and we’re talking in-store shopping, not online.
Since millennials are leading the charge when it comes to injecting cash into brick-and-mortar, it would be worth it to study the consumer preferences of this generation in order to maximize the success of your promotional marketing campaigns and get them into your store.
FACT: 50% of millennials not only shop in brick-and-mortar stores, but prefer going to them.
Why is this? It’s because this generation likes to “test” in-store products before buying them. This browsing step is referred to as “showrooming”. Even if a clothing store’s website, for example, has interested a millennial in a certain garment, he or she likes going into the retail store to touch and try on that garment prior to purchasing it. Even if the product is more straightforward than apparel, such as a painting or poster. Yes, a store’s website probably includes the dimensions of the artwork. A customer could easily buy online and not feel as though they are running the risk of being surprised by the product when it arrives. But obtaining the product isn’t the point of shopping for millennials.
Which brings us full circle to our core point: experience is everything. This generation values experiences over material goods, which is why they’re notorious for quitting their jobs to travel the world, spending obscene amounts of money on music festival tickets, and pouring their hard-earned—and sometimes not-so-hard-earned—cash into investment items that will guarantee continual positive experiences such as a pricey software product with which they can create artwork, program original video games, design websites, or otherwise turn their passion into a career. Remember, this is the “experience economy” and you’ll need to adjust your business, and marketing, model accordingly.
FACT: 78% of millennials would prefer spending money on an experience or event over buying something desirable.
How can you accentuate the in-store shopping experience? Focus less on straightforwardly selling products and services. Instead, funnel your efforts into creating in-store experiences and then entice your loyal customer base into your retail location through promotional marketing campaigns that amp up the fun experience they can expect. Trust us, you will get their attention, because for millennials FOMO is real—that’s the “fear of missing out”.
What kind of in-store experiences, you ask? Let’s take a look at what the industry giants did. The major department store Macy’s hosts min-concerts and even the occasional yoga class. Sports outlet Nike has erected indoor basketball courts in their flagship stores. This isn’t to suggest that you have to rent a bulldozer and take out a small business loan to please your customers. An enhanced shopping experience can also be a “vibe, aura, or memorable encounter” according to Crown TV.
An enhanced shopping experience can also be created with technology. While millennials and other consumers like in-store shopping, they like it even more when the retail store is as digitally interactive as their smartphone. The good news is that brick-and-mortar retailers can mimic that experience right in their stores with retail technology solutions such as digital signage, in-store WiFi, and selfie stations.
Digital signage is a great opportunity to engage and interact with your customers. You can promote products, display social media feeds, upsell items, list product details, and show video demonstrations. Using digital signage is also a cutting-edge strategy to boost your store brand and promote your company slogan.
Offering in-store WiFi is another great way to attract customers. The fastest way to trap a cat is to put an empty brown paper bag on the floor, and the fastest way to trap a millennial is to offer free WiFi and a lounge chair. That’s just science. Having comfortable customers lounging around your store never fails to magnetize passersby. This is actually a psychological phenomenon and it relates to an individual’s ingrained need to want what they perceive others to have, according to Research Gate.
Providing selfie stations is another way to encourage in-store shopping, because it provides an additional layer to your customers’ experience when they stop in.
If you want to implement these digital solutions into your retail store to enhance consumer experience, then you’re going to need an app to pull the whole effort together. With the right smartphone app, you will be able to reach your full customer base with the click of a button and alert them to the great experiences they will have today, this week, and this month at your store location so long as they stop by. And that’s where Loyal~n~Save comes in. Loyal~n~Save is a premium digital customer loyalty rewards program that integrates 21st Century technology with the in-store shopping experience to increase revenue and maximize customer satisfaction. Click here to learn more about our digital platform and all of the in-store solutions we offer.
This article was written by Loyal~n~Save, an omni-channel customer loyalty solution for retailers looking to increase customer retention and new customer acquisition.