With the convenience and ubiquity of online shopping, brick-and-mortar shops are evolving into places where shoppers go to connect with brands.
If you have a physical retail shop, this presents an exciting opportunity for your business. You can stand out from an online-only business by providing a seamless customer experience from the moment people discover your products online to when they visit your shop in person.
According to a OnePoll consumer survey, “74% of shoppers said they choose to shop in-shop because you can see/try things before you buy them.”
With that in mind, are you doing all you can to meet customers' in-shop expectations?
Here are five tips for creating a shopping experience people remember and recommend.
1. Connect with your customers
So, what makes a seamless customer experience?
It all starts with the way your staff connect with people.
“We always make sure one of our team members is at the door to greet our customers and explain more about our unique mission and our creative community," says Alice Mayor, owner of We Built This City, a London souvenir shop that celebrates local arts.
Hire people who have something in common with your customers. When your staff share the same interests as shoppers, the customer experience allows for social bonds to form.
“All our staff have creative backgrounds, so they have a vast knowledge of the work in the shop, but they're also all Londoners who can give tips to our international customers about other places to visit in the area," says Alice.
“There's always a lively conversation taking place!"
Encourage your staff to offer personalised suggestions to fit each individual customer's needs and preferences. And when you see familiar faces, take time to make them feel at home.
Alice adds, “shop work isn't overly complicated, but it's about being able to strike up human connections and smile through what can be long and busy days."
2. Offer unique products people can’t find anywhere else
The chance to discover new, hard-to-find products motivates customers to move from their devices into shops. Stock your shop with treasures that aren’t easy to find online and people will go out of their way to find your shop.
For Alice, product selection sets her business apart from her competitors. “Our curation from over 250 creatives means that we can bring totally unique, London-inspired products to our customers that are hard to find elsewhere."
Connect with the artisans in your community to commission some exclusive products for your shop. Then, share the makers' photos and stories on vibrant postcards near the product displays. You're not just selling an artisan's work, you're selling the story of why and how they made it... and there's emotion in that.
3. Host engaging events for your customers
Give people a reason to check in with your business by sharing a calendar full of events. Whether you host a launch party, panel discussion or festival, events elevate your shop from a place to shop to a memorable venue. And they give you a chance to contact customers to provide an update beyond the usual promotions.
Alice tries to, “focus on bringing in artists to showcase their talents through live art, master classes and workshops. This offers both our international and local customers a really special experience where they can meet local artists, learn creative skills from their classes or pick up a bespoke print or souvenir from them directly."
Strive to host a couple of fun in-shop events to drum up excitement throughout the year. When customers know they'll have the opportunity to learn something new or experience something unique, they'll prioritise visits to your shop.
4. Get creative with retail displays
Transform your window into something that turns heads and draws in passersby.
“Every few months, we offer up the shop front to a new artist with the simple brief of sending a positive message to London. Not only is this a stand-out opportunity for our artists, but it also helps us drive foot traffic and buzz throughout the year," explains Alice.
Think about ways to infuse your shop front with your brand's personality. Perhaps you decorate with a distinctive colour palette, showcase your “hero” products in dramatic lighting or create a splashy seasonal display. Anything that draws eyes and entices shoppers to come inside will enhance the customer experience.
5. Reward your regulars
Treating your regular shoppers like VIPs makes them feel appreciated. But it's good for business too. The royal treatment creates loyal customers.
“Our regular customers are always invited to new pop-up launches and sales ahead of the general public," says Alice. “They're also on a database that receives exclusive launches of new, limited-edition collections."
A thoughtful shop loyalty programme encourages customers to make frequent visits to your shop. You might reward regulars with an exclusive discount after spending a certain amount in a month or some practical promotional products (like a branded hat or water bottle) that shows how much you value their business. It will remind them of your shop long after they've gone home.
Creating a memorable retail customer experience sets your shop apart from the competition. Plus, it encourages people to stop by and see what’s new.
By finding ways to make customers feel special and by giving them reasons to visit beyond buying, your shop will win their loyalty for years to come.
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