Hands down, customer experience wins in retail.
Despite predictions, online shopping isn’t replacing face-to-face retail. Instead, technology is transforming customer expectations for in-person shopping experiences. Today’s buyers expect an integrated omnichannel experience, with brick-and-mortar retail playing a starring role.
Customers rank visiting a physical store as their first choice when it’s time to make a purchase. And the preference isn’t driven solely by older shoppers. Fifty-eight percent of Gen Z customers, born between 1997 and 2009, favor brick-and-mortar when it comes time to purchase, which is almost the same as the 62 percent of their older Baby Boomer counterparts.
In fact, the in-store experience is proving so important to customers that ecommerce-only brands like Casper, Kendra Scott, and Warby Parker are opening physical locations. By giving customers the option to seamlessly move from online to brick-and-mortar and back again, retailers are able to deliver on customer expectations and reap the benefits in the form of increased sales and loyalty.
Experience the differentiator
In the extremely competitive retail market, the in-store experience can be a powerful differentiator. Seventy-four percent of customers are likely to base their decision to buy from a retailer based on their experience, which outranks price and product selection. So, what sets a shopping experience apart? Focus on four factors: Technology, Personalization, Expertise, and Fun.
A well-integrated online and offline experience is a must. Your customers are constantly connected throughout their buying journeys, doing online searches, visiting your website, and even using their smartphones when they’re in your brick-and-mortar store.
The ability to shift seamlessly between digital and physical channels forms the foundation of an effective omnichannel customer experience. Your point-of-sale platform can play a pivotal role by providing a single overarching view of inventory, sales, and customers. By centralizing your data, you gain fresh options to enhance the customer experience.
For example, with centralized inventory management, you can offer customers the convenience of “click-and-collect” service that enables them to buy an item online and then pick it up in-store. In recent holiday seasons, more than half of buyers have chosen this option, which also proved to be a popular way to shop during stay-at-home restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with providing customers quick access and no delivery fees, click-and-collect also pays off for retailers. Sixty-seven percent of shoppers purchase additional items when they go into the store to pick up their online orders.
A stand-out experience starts by treating each customer as an individual, and demonstrating that you understand and care about their wants and needs. By optimizing what you know about your customers, you can create tailored, personalized experiences that differentiate your business in the minds of your target customers. Plus, research shows that personalization can boost retail revenue six to ten percent.
Leverage your POS system and the data you’re collecting to recommend additional products based on past purchases or develop custom offers for specific customers. And empower your sales team to utilize data to shape both in-store service and check-out experiences by recognizing a customer’s loyalty program status, style preferences, previous purchases, or even an upcoming birthday. Choose a POS system that makes customer profile data easy to access, and make sure it’s also easy to collect additional customer information over time, such as favorite brands and styles, hobbies, or family members.
Technology continues to make personalized in-store experiences easier to deliver. For example, many retailers are turning to mobile POS apps that give their sales teams tablet-based access to customer profiles, inventory look-ups, and check-out capabilities, no matter where they are in the store.
Savvy retailers don’t get so caught up with technological bells and whistles that they forget the value of adding a human element to the experience. Blending the right mix of automation with plenty of genuine human touches is what will make shopping memorable and turn your store into a destination for your target customers.
One important way to do this is to see your front-line sales team as the creators of your in-store experience. You want customers to think of them as more than a salesperson. Hire, train, and support your employees so that customers view them as expert resources, trusted consultants, and even friends. When an employee at a clothing store is knowledgeable about fashion trends or a salesperson at a craft shop is an experienced crafter, the connection they’re able to make with a customer automatically goes to the next level.
Retail stores are upping the experiential game with in-store events, classes, and multi-media. Get creative. Take what you know about your target customers and your products, and create unique experiences that get your customers involved and build a feeling of community.
Examples range from toy stores that encourage visitors to play with sample toys or even sit down and play a game, to bicycle shops that create riding clubs for cycling enthusiasts. You can also sponsor exclusive events for your best customers by featuring an expert speaker and event-only promotions.
Delivering memorable in-store experiences doesn’t have to be expensive. Thinking outside the box about how you display your products and changing the displays frequently sparks customer curiosity and keeps them coming back. As long as the experience you create resonates with your customers, you’ll likely have a success on your hands. Shoppers place a high value on experience. According to research by PwC, customers are willing to pay up to a 16% price premium for a great experience.POSIM is a point-of-sale and inventory management system designed to help retailers succeed and grow. To learn more about how POSIM can help you deliver customer experiences that stand out in a competitive market, contact us for a demo.