The times are changing, and the shift in consumer behavior has left retailers in an unusual position. Following a period of decreased working hours and foot traffic, the tides are turning, and customers value the in-person experience more than ever.
As a result, increasing the value of the in-store experience is critical for brick-and-mortar merchants competing with the digital economy and e-commerce.
Let’s take a look at some of the forthcoming trends in offline purchasing and how you should plan for a retail start-up if you’re considering owning a physical store someday.
Planning to open a brick-and-mortar store next year?
Opening a physical store is a natural next step for some successful online businesses. It’s normal to want to own one, as having a physical site can boost brand awareness, diversify your income sources, and integrate your company into the community.
If you’re looking to open a brick-and-mortar store but are afraid of what’s in store for physical shopping, take some stress out of the question by using the following tips:
- Stop worrying so much about aesthetics. Locating your store in an area with a great work ethic, business-friendly regulations, and low building costs is just enough if you don’t want to break the bank to invest in the space.
- Be prepared with Plan B. It might be tempting to transition from an online presence to an actual location, but be aware that this move might not necessarily generate the intended long-term effects.
- Replicate your online success in a physical space. Brand consistency across physical and digital channels is essential, and you can take advantage of the technology to offer digital experiences in your physical store.
Since consumer behavior has turned to digitalization, it’s safe to say you can get inspired by practices like those Nike offers and test the waters. Whatever you do, don’t forget that safety in the store is paramount, and people are analyzing the safety practices in place nowadays more than ever.
Ensure your staff is correctly trained to minimize the chances of someone getting hurt and suing you. Remember that if a customer slips on the wet floor and is injured, gets hurt because products are not properly stored, comes in contact with toxic substances that harm their health, and so on, they against you. Respect your duty of care and make customer safety your #1 priority. The pandemic has led to a greater fear of risks, infections, and other threats related to out-of-home experiences, so their protection can make or break their in-store shopping experience.
Is experiential marketing a thing?
Consumers keep entering physical stores to see and touch products in person, speak to a salesperson, or attend engaging events. Therefore, retailers must accommodate trends and use experiential marketing to build brand equity and increase sales.
A key strategy to bring customers in is frequent experiential activation because consumers aren’t only driven by the quality of the product, but also by the shopping experience itself. Small and major shops must provide experiences beyond the product itself, and brick-and-mortar retailers must always search for ways to improve the in-store experience and provide value to customers.
Whether through experiential events, the addition of new services, or the removal of consumer pain points, it’s essential to keep customers interested and returning.
What are foreseeable trends about the in-store experience?
Merchants have already implemented new technologies like apps to help customers identify items in-store, touchscreens to speed up checkout, and digital displays to keep customers informed on safety precautions and in-store product characteristics.
Retail will not return to many of its pre-pandemic approaches—it cannot, especially given that customers are accustomed to in-store technologies like self-checkout and “Buy Online, Pick Up In Store” (BOPIS).
Here are some retail technology trends of the future:
- Smart checkout. The standard checkout experience is quickly becoming obsolete. Retailers who don’t use mobile PoS equipment may experience long, dreadful lines. These are a key source of frustration for more than half of customers while shopping, and two-thirds believe automation can help this process.
- Store management. Business owners should look at their employees in a fresh light. Instead of replacing your retail personnel, use technology to empower them. There’s an ever-existing need for the human element even during small, insignificant interactions or virtual encounters.
- QR codes. Consumers can use their smartphone camera to see products on the website through QR code scanning through the window. Soon, almost 60% of US customers expect them to be a regular part of their retail experience.
Will fixing pain points bring more customers in?
Do you know the struggle of repetitive trials to paying or poorly informed customer service? If so, then you know how dreadful it is to stumble across a deficiently managed physical store.
Therefore, when launching your brick-and-mortar retail project, be aware of the problems your visitors may experience along their customer journey. Here are some examples of customer pain points to avoid to provide proper in-store experiences:
- Support pain points. A lack of product knowledge and a delayed response can scare potential customers away. One of the most effective methods to fix such issues and surpass consumer expectations is to use digital engagement tools like AI chatbots, live chat, and co-browsing.
- Financial pain points. These represent the discomfort and pain of spending too much money on a product or service, which can take the form of membership fees, the hefty cost of repeat purchases, etc. The primary objective for firms should be to demonstrate to potential clients the value they will perceive in purchasing their offerings.
- Process pain points. These refer to how the business interacts with customers by adhering to different processes and methodologies. Application submission and connection to the right department are problems that may arise in this regard.
- Productivity pain points. Businesses must persuade clients that their offerings are the solution to saving time and effort. You may use product details and images to demonstrate how your product works in practice.
Surprisingly, many people are still eager to shop offline because they have missed the physical experience of trying on clothes, analyzing foods, and carrying the shopping cart. However, it’s safe to say that brick-and-mortar retail stores opening in 2023 must adapt to several technological advances and trends.