In today’s digital world where you can order anything with the click of a button from the comfort of your own home, less people are venturing out into stores. Retailers have been faced with the challenge of creating an inviting and enticing environment for customers who do pay their stores a visit and have taken to new and innovative marketing and advertising strategies to do so. From grocery stores to department stores, here are some initiatives that can be taken to encourage in the moment purchasing within old-fashioned brick-and-mortar stores.
Use Technology for An Innovative & Interactive Experience
Although many companies have already developed apps that make shopping easy, some companies have opted to create custom apps that drive traffic into their retail locations and elevate the in-store experience. LVMH-owned cosmetics giant Sephora launched their Color IQ system in partnership with color authority Pantone to get people into their stores to have their skin scanned for scientifically precise color matching to makeup products. The technology utilizes a portable device that scans the surface of your skin and assigns a code to it that helps indicate which shade of each brand of complexion products will best match or complement your skin tone.
Target has also used apps to drive the in-store experience with “Cartwheel,” which has since been integrated into the main Target app since its initial development as a separate app in 2013. The app engages consumers by allowing them to scan products on their mobile device to price check and look for coupons on that item and similar suggested items. It also offers exclusive in-app deals and allows users to shop Target’s entire catalog of products.
Speed Up the Checkout Process
Apps have also become popular in stores not only for deals and discounts but also for completing purchases on your own! With the rising use and success of self-checkouts, many stores are looking for new ways for consumers to make their purchases independently and on the fly. Macy’s new app allows customers to check out using their mobile device, eliminating the need for them to go through the process with an associate. These apps allow you to scan products and pay for them ahead of time, and then have the purchase verified by an associate. Walmart is also rolling out a similar “Scan and Go” technology that is currently being tested in select stores. Checkout is available through a mobile app, but some stores are equipped with handheld devices that serve the same purpose.
Taking this idea a step further, Amazon is in the midst of revolutionizing the way that we grocery shop with their “smart-store” Amazon Go. The store is equipped with motion-detecting sensors that know when you pick something up and put it in your basket. Shoppers pay through the app and then walk right out of the store.
Get Creative With Displays
Americans can be exposed to thousands of print advertisements each day, so it is important to make sure that your signage and product displays stand out and grab the consumer’s attention. Many stores have turned to digital signage displays and live demonstration to help engage the senses and educate about products. With static signage, you can only include so many details before the design gets too busy to hold anybody’s attention. With digital signage, you can utilize different screens to showcase pricing, product information and even promotional video. This can be a great alternative to live product demonstration, if your store is unable to accommodate.
Live demonstration is an experience that can never be matched by shopping online, as it allows shoppers to experience the product in person. This is especially popular with cosmetics and other beauty products, as it is difficult to buy something without smelling it or feeling the texture ahead of time. Origins offers free in-store facials, which lends a relaxing service to customers, as well as the chance to see how their products perform on your skin before committing to a purchase. The same tactics are used in other industries, like specialty kitchen suppliers Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table, who regularly hold in-store cooking demonstrations and classes.
Give Incentives to Visit Stores
Like Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table, many stores offer lessons relating to their industry in-store. Athleta and REI are two of many examples of retailers who have begun inviting people into their stores for reasons other than to shop (with the goal being to get them to shop eventually, of course!) by offering classes that relate to their product offerings. Along with offering free yoga and fitness classes, Athleta also hosts private shopping events – a tactic that many other stores are experimenting with as well. Brands like Victoria’s Secret often invite members of their rewards program into the stores either before or after normal store hours to preview new collections or to offer exclusive discounts. Many stores, like Old Navy, will also offer some of their deals and incentives in-store only, meaning that people must pay a visit if they want to take advantage of the offer.
Create an Atmosphere
Psychology is critical to consider when designing a store layout. Colors, sounds, visuals, lighting and overall ambiance are all vital aspects that subconsciously contribute to consumers’ shopping experience and purchasing decisions. For young consumers, stores like Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister Co. are enticing because of their dimly lit, cologne-scented atmospheres with bumping music that creates a high-energy environment. Other clothing stores like Tommy Bahama embody this same idea but are geared towards adults with a more laid-back, beach-like vibe and signature coconut scent.
Aside from engaging the senses, the store must have an enticing interior and exterior appearance that will make people want to shop there. The store must be clean and organized, with easy access to items and displays, making it easy for customers to find what they want. Associates should be caring, knowledgeable and easily accessible. When the consumer has an overall pleasant experience in-store, they are more likely to make a purchase and continue coming back.
What are your favorite stores to shop at and why?