Over the past few years, bricks and mortar retail has been dominated by one big question – how to revolutionise the in-store experience to retain clientele.
The question is framed against the backdrop of a time-poor shopper who is increasingly turning to online commerce, and the answer is regarded as the panacea that allows bricks and mortar to play to its strengths.
As Inside Retail recently noted, however, there’s more than one way to offer an in-store experience that meets or exceeds the modern consumer’s desires.
Here’s an insight into the four types of in-store experiences driving future retail…
The in-store experience
In short, the in-store experience is the point of difference that only a real-world retailer can offer. It is the engagement that allows consumers to feel an affinity for a brand and seek them out at a physical location.
It is designed to lure the consumer in, offer them a unique interaction, and allow them to enjoy a relationship with a retailer at an entirely new level.
In some instances, the value of the experience might be emotional, in others it might be entertainment, and in further situations, the drawcard of in-store experience might be pure practicality.
But whichever need it caters to, it’s likely to fall into one of four different domains…
The convenient in-store experience is all about removing the friction involved in a sale. It is the experience targeted squarely at time-poor shoppers who want to get in and get out with their retail mission accomplished.
Inside Retail notes Amazon Go is the prime example of this in-store offering.
“Consumers can walk in, shop and leave without ever going through a checkout line. With time as the new currency, the retailer that removes the most painful features of the shopping journey and increases overall convenience can go a long way towards building consumer loyalty and trust.”
As Vend recently explained, physical locations offer the opportunity to build communities in ways websites or apps simply can’t, and that offers a very real chance to create an appealing communal experience.
They note athleisure apparel retailer Solfire is among the examples of brands harnessing this communal power. In New York, Solfire recently established a juice bar and ‘fitness oasis’ that offered a space for clubs to meet and where fitness classes could be hosted.
As consumers willingly hand over more data and seek to enjoy a more personalised shopping experience, curated retail is an in-store experience targeting them as the individual.
Trend Reports explains: “Curated retail ensures focused shopping and product relevancy – it provides a customer with choices that will most interest her depending on her previous shopping choices, interactions and set preferences”.
In real-world retail that plays out in a host of different ways but is usually made available through customer loyalty data or apps the consumer has downloaded.
It can extend from push notifications that alert consumers to a product they may be interested in while in-store, to cross promotion or automatic email or SMS prompts reminding customers to reorder something when it is likely to be running out.
Even those emails from your grocery store offering product suggestions “you might like” is curated retail at play.
The immersive experience allows consumers to envisage the retail offering on their own terms. Championed by emerging technologies like augmented and virtual realities, it offers an entirely new way to engage with a brand, and this year retailers are truly beginning to take the plunge.
Take fashion retailer Zara for example, who recently launched an AR app to accompany their physical retail experience.
Refinery 29 explains the app allows shoppers to point their smart phone at an otherwise empty shop window to see virtual models brought to life for around 12 seconds.
“All looks shown can then be ordered directly at the touch of a button or bought locally in the store.”
The final tally
In an age where the customer is better educated and more time poor, when online retail is rising and the product choice available is at its greatest, the in-store experience matters more than ever before.
Those retailers who deliver it well are not just offering their consumers greater convenience and a better experience, they are redefining retail and bringing bricks and mortar into the modern realm.