These days, it’s easy to go online scroll, click, and buy.
Yet, nothing can recreate the instore experience, whether that’s great customer service, knowledgeable sales assistants or being able to look at and feel an item before purchasing. That’s why, despite so many products now being available online, and the ability to shop anytime or place on a mobile, 69.1% of global sales still take place in physical stores1.
As humans, we need engagement and value the social aspect – it stimulates us physically and mentally. But the sheer number of big name retailers disappearing from high streets and shopping centres over the last few years has proven most consumers want more than just products on shelves.
Just in the last year, 41% of consumers say they’ve stopped using two or more brands due to poor experience. To keep customers coming back, retailers will need to make sure they’re providing outstanding and memorable retail experiences.
So, how can brands drive engagement and differentiate themselves from their competitors?
Here are three key stages of the customer journey you’ll need to focus on:
1. Attracting people instore
At one time, most brands treated their online and offline stores as two completely separate channels. But today, customers expect to move seamlessly between platforms, which means they need to be much more closely interlinked. In this omnichannel world, many retailers are now exploring innovative new ways to connect online and instore to create a consistent experience, using clear touchpoints to guide the customer from one to the other and back again.
Online platforms can now entice customers instore by offering click and collect or personalised time slots to come in and try on an item of clothing in person. QR codes on products and signage around the store can connect the customer’s device back into your online presence. And on the shop floor, endless aisle kiosks, offer the opportunity to browse a vast array of products across both platforms, price check and recommend similar items based on their purchase or browsing history.
In the last two years, we’ve also seen a growing number of retailers with high impact window displays, such as large scale LED, to attract shoppers off the high street and through the door. And it works, 8 out of 10 customers admit they’ve entered a store because a digital sign or display has caught their attention.
2. Converting people into customers
But just bringing people into the store doesn’t guarantee a sale, so brands are now deploying new strategies to make the journey from browsing to buying easier. The shift from passive signage to interactive digital displays, can assist sales by providing product information and notifying shoppers of other choices available as they move through the store. For example, in supermarkets, lift and learn displays might suggest wine selections to be paired with food items or give nutritional information.
Some brands are even taking consumer interaction to the next level by creating fully immersive experiences, that entertain customers with tailored content and gamification. At flagship stores, we’ve seen soundstages, dance floors with lights and music, and even instore treasure hunts to promote new products. Elsewhere, other outlets have incorporated virtual experiences, like intelligent mirrors, which allow customers to try on makeup and clothing by superimposing items onto them using augmented reality. This adds a playful element to browsing which can be shared online or with friends instore.
All these strategies, put a theatrical element into retail experiences to ensure they’re powerful, memorable, and engaging for customers.
3. Retaining loyalty
Digital platforms can now offer many routes to engage shoppers directly after their experiences. For a personal touch, you can follow up a purchase, with a specialised thank you note, instructions on refund policy or an interactive customer survey. Plus, you can keep them informed with promotional information about ongoing offers or discounts that encourage them to visit again. All of this can now be customised in relation to their browsing, purchase history and instore activity, to help enforce the sense that you understand them as a consumer, and you want them to create a personal connection with your brand.
Differentiate your brand
Here at M-Cube, we specialise in creating captivating and unforgettable digital experiences which keep shoppers coming back. For ten years, we’ve been working with BT across the globe – using their widely trusted infrastructure and extensive cybersecurity expertise, that allows us to support our customers wherever they need to be. We’ve designed customer journeys across thousands of stores, creating concepts, building pilots and managing large-scale projects all the way through to implementation. And we maintain and manage each deployment every single day, so that whenever a customer arrives, it’s working and ready for them to use.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help drive your customer engagement strategy, please feel free to get in touch.
1Edge by Ascential Retail Insight May 2021, Ascential, 2021