Expert Tips to Engineer a Great Retail Experience
The products that are displayed in your retail store speak for themselves and that’s all the experience your customers need. The joy and delight of interacting with the incredible items that line your (physical or digital) shelves are what satisfies customers the most. Many retailers go through this thought process and then get confused; most retailers assume customer experience is primarily an aesthetic concept and more about how stores and websites look and feel than anything else. But settling for this definition of retail experience will limit your brand and cause you to miss out on opportunities to craft something truly great for your customers.
Retailers and in-person sellers both big and small have the opportunity to create memorable, immersive experiences for their customers. Not only can these upgraded experiences facilitate more brand awareness, but also create a higher level of brand loyalty.
So, How Do You Get Started?
It is important for you to deliberately craft and engineer great experiences for shoppers in order to view yourself as acceptable from their perspective. Truly remarkable customer experience is no different than stage production where cast, crew, set design and tech come together to bring every line, scene, and act to life.
The retail experience can be broken down into five key elements that retailers can consider when designing a custom production for their brands:
Engaging: Find new ways to engage with customers—where they’re at, in the store, and everywhere in between (like the Internet). If you’re not sure what would engage shoppers, start by building a customer persona to better understand their preferences and pain points you could address.
Unique: Think outside the box to provide something that no other brand gives to shoppers. From your signage or logo to the colors you use or the music you pipe through the speakers, a uniquely branded experience makes a lasting impression.
Personalized: You could customize loyalty programs or create curated collections and special pop-up shops to tailor to specific customer needs and wants to design highly personalized experiences.
Surprising: Brush up on your consumer behavioral psychology to engineer experiences designed to provide something expected (and hopefully delightful).
Repeatable: A customer experience can fall flat if it’s just a one-time, happenstance occurrence. Make sure you create processes you can use to give every customer the experience you design, every time they interact with your brand.
Create a Well-Rounded Retail Experience
The retail experience begins and ends with the customer and not always the product. Focusing on customer service can turn negative interactions into positive reviews.
- Hire the Right People to Execute a Retail Experience
Who you hire matters—even for your most entry-level positions. The way each employee interacts with customers can dramatically shape their experience of your brand. You have to hire the right person who is trainable and someone who, when you explain your philosophy and your high standards of retail customer service, can own it as their own.
Retail workers have to be prepared for both the best and worst in customers and their behavior. Your employees need to be immune from judgment, snarkiness, or condescension. If they aren’t, don’t hire them.The best way to achieve this is to have a retail sales training program that gives each employee the guidance on how to implement your customer service non-negotiables.
Most retail employees need to juggle the needs of more than one customer at a time, but are still tasked with the challenge of building rapport and trust with each. A balancing act separates the top retailers from the rest.
- Retail Experiences Aren’t One Dimensional
Customers today expect to be engaged, informed, and entertained while they shop.
Entrepreneurs must identify how they can accomplish this within their own store environments. Every retailer is different, so there’s no set outline for entrepreneurs to follow, but you should consider ways you can capture, keep, and strengthen customer attention in store.
Consider every experience your customer could have, from the moment they step into your store and on towards the point of purchase. Physical and visual experiences are both key to consider so, aim to create experiences that customers can engage with while also creating experiences that customers can generally enjoy.
To achieve this, focus on creating unique but brand conscious signage to place throughout the store. You can enhance the physical experience by giving customers something to engage with. That could be product samples or demonstrations, hosting events in your store or bring in experts to lead specialized, free classes relevant to your brand and what you sell.
- Brainstorm Better Ideas for Customer Experience
As you start considering the experiences your customers are having, or the potential points during their journey at which you could engage with them more, ask yourself critical questions to guide your brainstorming.
Ask yourself what you want customers to remember about their shopping experience. Is it the inventory assortment? Merchandising experience? Hands-on opportunities? Customer service? Or all of the above?”
When retailers put themselves in their customers’ shoes, they can better equip themselves to create a more meaningful and memorable experience for their customers. You can delight customers by helping them with their shopping needs and desires. Ask how you can provide a little extra care to shoppers, or go out of your way in a small way that creates a big and memorable impact.
Handwritten notes are a traditional, yet, great way to nurture customer loyalty. You can write these for every purchase made, depending on the size of your business, or make it a store standard to have them written out for purchases that exceed a certain amount. Use this gesture to communicate with customers for special occasions like their birthdays, weddings and more.
Each one of these tips on their own might not be enough to create a fully satisfying customer experience. But when you start piecing them together, you can engineer something that no other competing brand offers.
Train your employees and give them the support they need to engage customers in a genuine, personable way. Or give customers something to physically interact with, like snacks to keep their shopping energy up or seasonal drinks to make your store more inviting. Then look for ways to make additional communication with customers in a personalized way; which you could do with email or social media connections and follow-up. Oscar has a unique way of engaging with its customers through their social media channels and their website that helps keep a strong relationship with its audience. Engaged customers = repeat customers and that leads to more sales and a creative community of customers all interacting with each other.
You have to make sure your store’s visual and physical elements reflect the unique nature of your specific brand. Don’t be afraid to do something completely unexpected that incorporates some brand appropriate humor or just something really delightful that the customer would not have normally expected from a retail store.
Finally, keep your retail experience repeatable by outlining systems and processes you—and every employee—can use to help recreate great interaction after great interaction with your customers.