What Shoppers Expect From Brick-and-Mortar Retailers
Shoppers should expect retailers to help them turn the page on a turbulent 2020 by offering price value built into memorable experiences in 2021. The combination of (hopefully) loosened regulations, a COVID-19 vaccine, and consumer desire to re-establish their pre-2020 shopping routines should permit retailers to attract and retain more consumers in 2021 than they did in 2020.
We know that value and memorable experiences are precisely what consumers want in 2021. Raydiant's State of Consumer Behavior 2021 report confirmed this. We asked 1,000 consumers to explain what matters most to them in 2021, and retailers would be wise to cater to shopper demands in order to increase foot traffic and per-customer revenues in their brick-and-mortar stores.
Shoppers Will Expect a Lively Yet Safe In-Store Experience
It's not enough for a retail location to be merely a physical extension of its online store. Cookie-cutter branding isn't enough to entice customers in 2021.
Shoppers' health concerns have made online shopping even more appealing than it was when convenience was digital retail’s only real upside. We know from our findings that more than 40 percent of respondents visited physical stores less in 2020 because of COVID-19, at least in part because they viewed stores as possible sites of viral transmission.
Mask mandates have eased many shoppers’ concerns about the safety of in-store experiences. The COVID-19 vaccine could shift shopper sentiment even further in favor of brick-and-mortar retail locations. Yet, even with safety concerns largely addressed, retailers' pitch to customers isn't complete.
Shoppers want to have an experience when they enter your store. They want an immersive one, a safe one, and one that provides them value in the form of products, discounts and social engagement.
Twenty-six percent of respondents who said they prefer in-location shopping to online shopping are drawn to the entire experience of visiting a brick-and-mortar store. The sense of community and shared purpose in retail outlets is undeniable, but it may be the fine touches — e.g., vibrant signs, exclusive in-store discounts, an efficient self-checkout process, the immediacy of walking out of the store with the product they sought — that remind the customer of the unique benefits of shopping at your store.
There's always more that you can do as a retail manager to improve the customer’s in-store experience, and digital signage can be a way to connect with the most at-risk shoppers in your store. You can direct them to discounted products, enroll and engage them in customer loyalty programs, allow them to check out, and tell them how much you appreciate their business through a single technology.
In the age of COVID-19, you’ve had to find ways to communicate care for the customer without some age-old tools at your disposal — smiles being an obvious example. Still, you've got distinct advantages as a physical retailer, including the dynamism of your employees and complementary digital signage. Continue using these assets to provide customers a stimulating, satisfying retail experience as the frost chills and spring emerges for Americans and the retail sector in 2021.
Shoppers Will Expect to Find What They’re Looking for, or a Suitable Alternative
Getting foot traffic in your brick-and-mortar locations is a start, but it’s just that — a start.
You may know well that a consumer who walks in the door can just as easily walk right back out empty-handed, but will do so only if you give them reason to. In 2021, reasons why consumers may not make it to the point of sale despite entering your store include:
- you don't have the product they seek or any suitable alternatives;
- they're confused, overwhelmed, or made to feel unsafe by the layout of your store;
- they're not made sufficiently aware of discounts and offers that may compel them to purchase; and
- they find the overall experience of being in your location off-putting for one or more reasons.
We know from our State of Consumer Behavior 2021 report that these are real threats to your revenues and customer retention. Nearly 14 percent of respondents said that the layout of a store defines whether their shopping experience will be positive or negative. An even greater share of respondents (33.1 percent) said product availability has the greatest power to make or break their shopping experience.
A couple tips: make sure customers know how to find what they're looking for by providing ample directions to departments and specific products (digital signage can be very handy here). When they find the product, allow them to check out as they please by offering both a live cashier and self-checkout kiosks.
Provide the customer the product that they’re looking for within the framework of a safe, engaging and efficient shopping experience. This is a data-supported formula for winning over consumers hungry for valuable retail experiences in 2021.
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-store 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.