Personalized Experiences Are a Brand Requirement — Here’s How to Deliver Them, Online and Off
Although it may feel like the past two years have radically changed retail, many consumer expectations are still the same, just fast-tracked. To meet these expectations, physical stores need to get creative with crafting unique experiences, including using pop-up shops, providing exclusive products and experiences, and managing their supply chain and inventory effectively and sustainably. So what’s changed? Although none of these best practices are new, the pandemic amplified the need to master them quickly.
As consumers have become more comfortable shopping online, digital experiences have improved, and people have more reasons to stay inside, today’s physical stores need to work extra hard to convince them to venture out — in short, in-store experiences need to be exceptional. Fortunately, brands and retailers have more tools at their disposal. Using technology, data and strategy, retailers can create personalized moments that consumers are looking for and connect consumer behavior, online and off.
Use Digital Signage to Open New Doors
One powerful tactic in creating personalized experiences is to use digital screens and displays to communicate with shoppers. While digital signage isn't new, advancements in the space have created new benefits.
Digital window screens make an impactful first impression, enticing consumers to come inside. Retailers can use in-store screens, including touchscreens and eye-catching video walls, to promote brand loyalty programs, encourage point-of-sale purchases, and share real-time inventory updates. You can also promote social media, including user-generated content, to encourage social engagement.
To create “phygital experiences,” organizations can use interactive kiosks that provide self-guided shopping experiences and encourage shoppers to log into their digital accounts, blending online and offline behaviors. These tools can also reduce the burden on sales associates and provide valuable consumer insights.
Digital screens are persuasive and effective sales tools for reaching customers. They're also more flexible than traditional media. Retailers can easily update messaging at the local or corporate level. Stores can also use digital signage to communicate important information with employees, for example, by placing screens or TVs in staff break rooms.
Here are a few best practices and tips for effectively leveraging digital signage:
- Define a clear objective, whether that's to engage and entertain, enhance the brand, or drive sales.
- Create a content strategy and content calendar that reflects your target audience, as well as store traffic patterns. Consider how often you will change content, how it ties into current promotions, and where the content will come from.
- Consider how far consumers will be from each screen, as this affects the content, font size, etc., and incorporate interactive elements whenever possible.
- Reuse existing content whenever possible, but be sure to tweak it to maximize its timeliness.
- Don’t overreach — more content isn't always better. Start small and measure, analyze and test as you develop your strategy.
- Enterprises should encourage store managers to localize content, for example, by providing a template they can update to improve message relevance.
- Remember that digital signage deployment requires content, content management software, and media players and screens. By partnering with a holistic provider, retailers can streamline processes, reduce the margin of error, and capture cost savings.
Play to Physical Retail’s Strengths by Igniting All the Senses
While e-commerce platforms have grown leaps and bounds in their ability to replicate in-person shopping, they're still unable to engage all senses the way physical stores can. To create standout experiences, consider what consumers see, smell, hear, and even taste.
Innovations in audio systems also unlock new opportunities to set the mood. Whether you're looking to evoke a safe, tranquil feeling or a fun, high-energy setting, curating the perfect playlist is critical. Retailers can interweave music with overhead messaging that drives point-of-purchase sales and strengthens customer relationships. A simple “thank you for coming,” an update about an exciting in-store event, or a shout-out to your staff can add to shopper enjoyment while also humanizing the brand.
As you design your audio strategy, be sure to:
- Keep your target audience in mind. Show shoppers that you understand them as you create your communication strategy.
- Look for a brand experience platform that makes it easy to program music and messaging as well as make adjustments on the fly.
- Protect your brand by choosing a solution that vets song quality. You need every song choice to be on-brand, culturally sensitive, and fully licensed for business use.
- Remember that your employees are listening too, and their experience matters. Avoid playing the same songs too frequently, for example.
- Consider how the in-store experience complements your overall marketing strategy. Brands, including Gap, Target, Hulu, and more, have recently repositioned their marketing strategy to focus more on simple concepts, such as community. Physical experiences are an unparalleled opportunity to embody and reinforce your brand ideals.
For retailers that can deliver on customer expectations, the future is bright. Consumers will continue to expect pleasant, personalized experiences, seamlessly delivered across channels. And now it's easier and more affordable than ever to give this to them.
Jaime Bettencourt is senior vice president, North America, account management at Mood Media, a company that provides on-premise media solutions to help you connect with your customers, enhance your brand image and grow your business.
Jaime Bettencourt is an accomplished senior-level sales and marketing leader with a proven ability to achieve double-digit revenue growth, recognized for designing world-class customer experiences for leading lifestyle and retail brands. She has a robust track record for leading teams and leveraging custom, complex in-store marketing, media and technology solutions for Fortune 500 clients in the retail space. Throughout Jaime’s 20 years at Mood Media, she’s been in various marketing, branding and sales leadership roles and has worked with global organizations to enhance in-store experiences through targeted brand initiatives and marketing strategies supported by customer insights and analytics. With expertise in managing portfolios of enterprise and mid-market clients, growth strategy, fostering c-level decision maker relationships, and designing profitability metrics and sales leadership, Jaime has developed into a true powerhouse.
Jaime recently led a hugely attended panel at SXSW Interactive 2018 about the Future of Physical Retail in a Post-Digital World, which also featured major brands like Under Armour and Kendra Scott. She has also been a speaker and moderator for leading retail industry engagements, including at the 2017 Future Stores conference, the 2016-2018 Interactive Customer Experience Summits, Connecting Point events (StorePoint, FashionPoint & NextPoint), and the 2015 Wearable Technology UX Conference. She is regularly featured as a thought leader on retail customer experience in publications including Women’s Wear Daily, CMO.com, Chief Marketer, Quartz, STORES Magazine, Forbes and Adweek to name a few.
She is also an incoming Fashion Retail Board Member within the Connecting Point Marketing Group, and has won awards for her work partnering with designers on global events.