8 Types of In-Location Experience You Can Deliver in 2021 and Beyond
Consumers made one thing clear in our State of Consumer Behavior 2021 report: experiences matter. Ninety percent of consumers say they’ll return to your store if you provide a “positive experience.”
It’s also clear that there's no catch-all approach to customer experiences. Shoppers are diverse in their tastes and demands. Retailers must offer a variety of in-location experiences — each of them conceived with clear purpose — to cater to as many shoppers as possible.
As front-line participants in retail, we've crystallized eight specific in-location experiences that your organization should be offering:
- Click-and-Collect Experiences
- Immersive Experiences
- Revenue-Focused Experiences
- Personalized Virtual Support Experiences
- Informational Experiences
- Brand-Building Experiences
- Self-Service Experiences
- Checkout Experiences
In an ideal world, you’ll provide your customers as many of these experiences as possible within a single store visit. They're not mutually exclusive, and each experience category provides either tangible or intangible benefits to your customers and your brand alike.
You’ve probably heard that shipping costs are rising. Customers are also waiting longer to receive their goods. From food to furniture, customers are paying more and waiting longer when they order online.
E-commerce's loss is physical retail’s gain. Click-and-collect experiences are readymade to capture the customer who wants to spend as little time as possible in your stores, but doesn't want to wait for or pay the cost of delivery.
Click-and-collect experiences include curbside pickup and in-store pickup. The service is anything that allows your customer to order online or over the phone and pick the order up in-store. No shopping required.
More than three-quarters of consumers have used click-and-collect options, per our State of BOPIS Report 2021. Consumer demand is there, so give your customers a way to purchase your products faster and cheaper than they can online.
Example: Nike was one of the earliest adopters of click-and-collect. It continues to offer customers this option, preparing the order within two hours and emailing the customer a unique QR code for seamless pickup.
The more immersive you can make your in-location experiences, the deeper your brand’s imprint with the customer will be. This has become increasingly true as younger generations get their hands on more and more disposable income.
Millennials are driving an “experiential economy,” with 78 percent preferring to spend on “experiences” rather than “things.” As a retailer, your mission is to provide an immersive shopping experience — i.e., things sold within the context of an experience.
Something as simple as an interactive, digital product catalog can be immersive. Don’t stop there, however. Experiential retail has become more mainstream, and thinking outside of the box is the only way to keep pace.
Example: Vans’ House of Vans lives up to the brand’s “Off the Wall” tagline. With locations in Chicago and London, these massive compounds include all the Vans merchandise shoppers could ever want. They also include a concrete bowl for waiver-signing skaters to put their Vans gear to the test, an art gallery, cafe, and live music venue. House of Vans represents immersion with the volume turned up to 10.
Immersion is fun for the customer and useful for your brand. However, as retailers, revenue-focused experiences are what allow you to pay the bills.
An experience is revenue-focused if its purpose is to push the consumer into a purchase. This can include point-of-sale promotions (digital or physical), your employees’ approach to upselling, loyalty program perks, and anything else designed specifically to increase short- or long-term revenue.
Example: Target is known for getting customers to spend more than they intended when they walked through its doors. Target’s revenue-focused experiences include clever product placement, seasonal promotions, and a product rotation that generates “FOMO” in its customers.
Informational experiences ensure that your customers know what they need to in order to shop with you. Informational experiences can include updating your item availability online and in-app, providing clear product specs in-store, and featuring promotions prominently on in-store signage. Like every experience, the more engaging you can make your informational experiences, the better.
Tip: Make sure your offline customers know everything they need to know when they step foot inside your location, and deliver that information in a format they're familiar with.
Example: Shopify highlights 120 grocers that are using digital signage to, presumably, direct shoppers to items and alert them to promotions. The installation of this informational signage has correlated with a significant boost in those grocers’ revenues.
Personalized Virtual Support Experiences
Offering effective virtual support services can reduce retailers’ staffing costs and provide customers an alternate way to access assistance. So long as these virtual support experiences are effective and sufficiently personalized, they can be a valuable addition to your stores.
Tip: Engage your customers one-on-one just like you would if you were face-to-face.
Example: The in-store virtual assistant (VA) typifies personalized virtual support services. These services connect shoppers with an off-site assistant who can answer their product questions, guide them to specific items, and help facilitate purchasing.
Sam’s Club is using its app to help customers find items in-store, integrate augmented reality in the shopping experience, and check out — another example of tech-driven customer support.
Brand-building experiences are designed specifically to spread positive brand awareness. Really, every customer and non-customer interaction with your brand is a potential brand-building experience. When it comes to your physical locations, you can expose customers to philanthropic drives, brand messaging, origin stories, and other features that reflect the values of your brand.
Example: The phenomenon of “charity checkout” remains a staple of retail, allowing retailers to ally themselves with worthwhile causes. Think Salvation Army Santa outside your local grocery store or the option to donate to The Wounded Warrior Project when you check out.
Self-Service and Checkout Experiences
We combine these experience categories because self-checkout is the most obvious self-service experience that retailers can provide. It’s arguably the most beneficial to customers as well. Self-checkout kiosks are affordable, empower your customers, and can drastically reduce wait times.
Tip: Make it as easy as possible for your customers to spend money with you. Avoid the potential pitfalls of self-checkout.
Example: Most national retailers offer some form of self-checkout. Examples abound, from Walmart to Home Depot, and most retailers in between.
“In-location experience” is a broad term, so I hope that this article helps you better understand the specific elements of a positive in-store customer experience. Now all you have to do is deliver those excellent in-location experiences. Easy, right?
Bobby Marhamat is the CEO of Raydiant, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-location experience, and reinforce brand messaging.
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Bobby Marhamat is the CEO of Raydiant Screen Signage, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-store experience, and reinforce brand messaging. Prior to joining Raydiant, Bobby served as the COO of Revel Systems where he worked on the front lines with over 25,000 brick and mortar retailers. Bobby has held leadership positions including CEO, CRO, and VP of Sales at companies such as Highfive, Limos.com, EVO2, Verizon Wireless, LookSmart, ServerPlex Networks, and Sprint/Nextel. When Bobby's not spending his time thinking about the future of brick and mortar retail, you can find him traveling, reading, or tending to his vegetable garden.