Over the past five years, we’ve seen a staggering growth in online shopping accompanied by a steady decline of physical retail with stores and brands closing. Despite this growth in the ecommerce sector, brick and mortar stores do remain a vital component of the retail and shopping experience.
With online giants such as Alibaba, and Amazon growing year on year, with both becoming the number one retailer in their respective countries. In 2017 Amazon’s influence became so strong that it became the number one seller of apparel in the US, beating traditional retailers such as Target and Walmart, as well as even online competitors such as ASOS.
This being said, physical store locations still generate sales, and are a key tool in a brands overall marketing strategy. So if online shopping is taking over the traditional retail market, how can these brick-and-mortar stores still be so important? Well the line between in-store and online is blurring, and the line looks to get even muddier.
The high street just isn’t simply about buying and selling anymore, it has now become a place to discover and explore new products, maybe even find something your didn’t even think you needed. Traditionally high streets and towns were seen as the centre of the community, with retailers getting to know and understand their customer base to be able to provide more bespoke and tailored experiences.
Recent shifts in retail have seen high streets attempt to bring back this nostalgia, meaning retailers are putting more emphasis on creating unique experiences for customers in an attempt to encourage repeat visits on a regular basis. Gone are the days to simply see the high street as a venue to sell goods, this is evidenced with ‘experiential stores’ such as florists, salons and local producers continuing to flourish and grow over the past decade whilst other shop fronts have seen decline.
These ‘experiential stores’ are not something that you can get from your screen, they provide experiences unique to to being at that place, and this is exactly the practises that traditional retailers need to create in order to continue to bring more customers through their doors. As our lives continue to become more stressed and also more lonely, people are continually looking for personal experiences and friendly encounters, retailers can fulfil this and bring the highstreet back to the heart of the community as it once was, but how?
Many retailers simply won’t have the budget for large scale or bespoke campaigns that you may see regularly in the press and media, such as VR headsets and augmented reality solutions, but there are a number of smaller changes retailers can make to increase footfall and subsequently sales. Solent work with brands and retailers to create bespoke campaigns that will fulfill any specific requirements that you may have, but these key-points below will help get you started and on the way to developing more exciting retail experiences for your customers.
1. Offer free in-store collection for online orders
If you already have an online store you may already provide in-store collection. Highlighting this on your online store can be a great way to encourage footfall in-store and often promoting this as ‘free’ can provide the customer with the sense of additional value to their order. It’s a great way of letting your online customers know about your traditional store, and gives an opportunity for further upsells.
2. Streamline your checkout experience…
With big old clunky cash registers on the way out, and mobile payment solutions such as iZettle, Square and SumUp on the rise, there is no excuse for retailers to make their customer checkout and payment experience easier and more frictionless. Mobile payment solutions allow you to step out from behind the counter and provide a more personal experience with your customers, and gives retailers more upselling opportunities. You’ve seen retailers such as Apple sell in this fashion for years, and can encourage sales with a more informal relationship between customer and staff.
3. Put on some ‘retail-tainment’…
Often a feature of the festive shopping period, this trend has spilled its way into the rest of the year. Retailers promote one-off special events that give an opportunity to market products to customers whilst also entertaining and attracting media attention. These events can be as simple as cookery demonstrations for food based retailers, and make-up demonstrations for health and beauty brands. This entertainment can even be talks and lectures on a related subject or from product creator.
4. Open up your in-store Wi-Fi
It seems like a simple one, but it’s one of the easiest ways to provide your customers a familiar creature comfort. It’s a great way to allow your customers to better interact with your brand and allows them to share and promote their in-store experiences on social media. It’s also a great way to capture customer contact information, or encourage them to follow or like your businesses social media profile before joining the network.
5. Let customers have some hands-on fun
Although this may not be appropriate for certain businesses, the more customers can interact and experience with a product, the more likely they are to see themselves with the product in their everyday life. Brands such as Bite Beauty have made this the core of their business model, with their lip labs where customers can come develop, design and make their very own lipstick in-store. Other brands such as Disney have created unique toy experiences including build-your-own ‘drone’ or ‘lightsaber’ specifically tailored at fans and rookies alike, experiences such as this are often able to have premium pricing for the privilege of the experience whilst also building brand loyalty.
6. Turn your “salespeople” into consultants, experts, or even friends…
Finally, the simplest way to help build unique shopping experiences for your customers, is simply to ensure your employees and salespeople are passionate and knowledgeable about what they are selling. Customers will notice when staff are uninterested in the product they are selling, and usually one of the reasons a customer has come into a traditional brick-and-mortar store is because they’re looking for advice and insight on the products they are buying. Employee’s knowledge on the products will often lead to a sale, and sometimes allows the opportunity for upsells. Even if no sale is made on the day, simply by providing insight and knowledge.
If you’re looking for marketing support with your business this year, speak to us here at Solent, we’re able to create tailored marketing campaigns that support your business’s existing work and marketing efforts. Whether you’re looking to improve and build upon your brand or develop a new website, engage your social followers or create some unique marketing experiences.