There’s a lot of buzz around future of retail these days. The whole commercial landscape is going through huge changes and many retailers have their minds filled with unanswered questions. Are physical stores really going to die and disappear? Do we even need them anymore? New technologies are changing the rules of the game when it comes to creating retail experiences. Customers are becoming more and more familiar with the new ways of shopping fast and are becoming hungrier by the day to see more. Making accurate future predictions is becoming harder and harder but one thing is for sure, a true, genuine and memorable customer experience is still in the very heart of physical retail.
Read up on our WERK — Retailer Cheat Sheet on the key factors to keep in mind when developing Your retail experience.
Think about your customers. Who are they? And do you really know them? What expectations they might have for your brand — both online and offline? Remember — the times of selling ‘everything to everyone’ are long gone. So pinpoint your real customer segments and start looking through their lenses. Surround your brand with the people in the identified key segments to find out what they really expect. Make them feel included and thought of. Make your retail location easily approachable to them. Courage your staff to be curious and learn while chit-chatting with the customers. Priceless client data is often gathered in the most simplest of ways!
Omnichannel retailing is becoming the new norm and the secret sauce behind many of the recent retail success stories, such as Amazon. If you haven’t made any steps yet, it’s due time to start thinking omnichannel. Contrary to general opinion amongst many old school retailers, online sales channels and physical stores aren’t each other’s competition, but a unified single sales path working seamlessly together. Make sure your clients in-store are aware of your online offers and vice versa — both have a different but equally important role in the eyes of an omnichannel shopper. Online feeds the hunger of information (price, availability, collection) where as offline dazzles the client with all 4 senses, building the experience, the human contact and the service.
Build a holistic retail world, where your brand identity is coherent and recognisable in all channels, from social media to all other communication and to online and physical stores.
Winning over a customer is not only about what products you have on the shelves anymore. Discover more of your customers ‘movements’ — What are they most intrigued about online? Do the same items create similar interest in-store? Identify the key metrics for your omnichannel environment and plan your actions accordingly. Use your data — I mean, really learn from it. When harnessed in the right way it can be the ultimate power tool in optimising sales, visual merchandising and customer experience. So much can be done with simple sales data when implemented correctly.
Can your sales data improve the result of visual merchandising? Is your online presence attracting more or less people than last month? Are your window displays creating the wanted results?
Retail is constant and never-ending AB-testing. Customer interest can change in a flicker, so be proactive vs. reactive. If a set-up doesn’t work, change it. Use the data and change it again. Until it works. React to sales result in real time and build sales auditing processes into your daily routines for you and your sales staff.
There’s always been a lot of hustle about the best practices of customer service. What else should a customer service representative do than to remember to smile, stand straight and talk professionally? You guessed it — ALOT more than that. In retail, a ‘cashier role’ simply isn’t enough anymore. The future brick n’ mortar success stories are build around service experiences that are personal, professional and authentic. Your sales staff represent the embodiment of your brand message and how your customers perceive it.
Think about the story you want to tell with your staff and customer service experience. Is it a ‘semi-disconcerned b-class Netflix production’ or ‘mind-blowing tear-dropping human encounter from La la Land’?
The new-era of self-service brick and mortar stores are spreading into the retail landscape with new innovations popping up constantly and becoming the polar opposite of a classic physical service experience. Welcome the self-service experiences if they are adaptable to your concept, they may just be the convenience your clientele is looking for — or harness a 5 star service as your key competitive advantage, where the human touch is a made a true novelty. In this, every staff member should be critical about their own role in building a customer experience.
Do your customers leave your store a bit happier as when they came in? Did you give the client more than they were expecting? Never underestimate how far the good word can spread - bad word even further.
How to really inspire your customers? How to develop a store space into an experience that tells the story behind your brand? Build a world your customers can really relate to and an experience that creates some sort of an emotional response.
Build an emotional bond between your customer and the physical 3D experience — something worth coming back to again and again. If you’ve done your research, you should know by now what really gets your clients going emotionally.
Be smart in using it for your advantage in everything you do. But be genuine — a fake story will fly as far a bird with no wings. People will most likely forget a red shoe was in the window in a few minutes, whereas stories and experiences will be long remembered. And if the window does that trick, they’ll find that red shoe as they walk in.
To conclude — building a great customer centric retail experience is a constant process in finding new ways to develop your strategy from product, to store visuals and service. Keep your eyes open, be curious and talk to your customers. True retail experiences are build from the best stories. For some the story is that of sustainable values, for another it’s a community of people seeking to feel part of something. What is Your story?
Make your customers part of your story by sharing the journey with them. The experience of feeling special and included will often be the defining factor whether to buy or not. Remember that at the end of the day the customer opinion is the only one that should count.
Thank you Ilona Oksanen,
our WERK founder, CEO and Concept Wizard for all the lessons so far and help with editing this post.
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