In the days of competition with online retailers, traditional brick-and-mortar stores need to stand out from the crows in order to achieve success. But what does ‘stand out from the crowd’ mean? And how can a traditional retailer actually compete with online offerings? It doesn’t have to be the case that online always means better. Physical stores have many differences from online. Making the most of these differences is key to a successful future where customer experience is at the top of the list of reasons people come to your store.
Why customer experience?
All the talk of the past was about customer service. That referred to having a wide range of products available, making it quick and easy for people to check out, and having friendly staff. With online shopping, there is a potentially infinite number of products to choose from. But the choice isn’t always the healthiest thing. Too much choice can leave people with decision paralysis. Ease of checkout is the simplest thing online – there’s never a queue.
With this in mind, we need to think a little differently when it comes to customer experience, which is about so much more than buying something quickly and having it delivered to your home or place of work. We’re talking customer experience. And there are some great ideas below on how to improve customer experience.
Offer something you can’t get online
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Far too many physical retail stores try to compete with online retailers on price. But these self-same physical stores have higher overheads. So, they aren’t on a level playing field. Take price out of the equation by offering something that you just can’t get online. And one of the best ways to do this is to make your whole store an experience. Think maybe interacting with the products in a unique way or giving your customers a chance to try them before they buy. You can’t get that online!
Add services to your products
One amazing way to improve the customer experience is to add services. It gets people coming in for more than just a browse of the products. For example, if you’re an outdoor store, then applying a new waterproof coating to well-worn (and well-loved) trousers or jackets is a real winner. It brings people in where they might have gone online to buy a cheaper replacement. And it gives your team the opportunity to spark a conversation. You will see the loyalty this brings. And the additional sales that go with it.
Reward regular shoppers
One of the best ways to keep regular customers is to make them feel rewarded. This is the basics of customer experience. Regular customers can become raving fans of your business if they feel like they are valued. And raving fans will talk to as many people as possible about how great you are. So, if you’re a health store, then why not put on a cooking class using your ingredients? People will come back time and time again if you treat them like they are the most important person on the planet.
Events in the store are one way to make this happen. They are not, by any means, the only way. Loyalty cards get people coming back time and time again. As does good old-fashioned customer service. Apply liberally!
Remember the kids
If you’re a store that attracts parents, then you’re also a store that attracts kids. Parents want nothing more from a shopping experience so that their kids don’t get bored, act up and spoil things. But kids will be kids…
If your store keeps kids entertained, then parents have more time and patience to make buying decisions – and spend money with you. If a store has something for kids to do, such as toys to play with, coloring in, or chalkboard, then you keep them in the store for longer. Keeping kids in-store longer keeps parents in-store longer. And if there’s one thing parents do, then it’s talk to other parents. You suddenly get a reputation as a great place for families to spend their time shopping. That’s a great way to compete with online shopping.
Get your staffing right
One of the bugbears of customers is that they can never find a staff member when they need one. Looking up and down the aisles for assistance is a frustration that drives people away from physical retail and drives them online. Even though online customer service in this area isn’t always the best, it is improving. Chat boxes have helped lighten the load here. But there’s nothing like talking face to face with another human being. Traditional brick-and-mortar stores need to take advantage of this fact. So, understanding the flow of customers will allow you to manage your staffing appropriately. HLDS’s IoT sensors can be used to monitor in-store congestion in real-time. For example, in a shop, it is possible to implement staff in a timely manner according to the congestion status of the entire facility.
Remove payment friction
One of the biggest issues people cite when it comes to shopping in traditional brick-and-mortar stores is the time it can take to pay for goods once selected. The queues at the checkout get longer at certain times of the year too. People would rather find the same product online and simply have it delivered. But there are some pretty effective tech solutions to this. HLDS Sensor Solutions allow people to pass through a store, select their items and walk out. The items selected are automatically tracked and charged to the customer’s account. The customer gets the ease of shopping online whilst in a store.
If you have any questions about how we can help you build a better customer experience through tech like this, then please get in touch.