Today’s shoppers have grown accustomed to the speed and convenience of online shopping. For brick and mortar retailers that are contending with labor shortages and an influx of traffic during the holiday season and post-pandemic recovery, it can be a challenge to provide a great in-store experience to keep shoppers coming back.
The in-store experience is more important now than ever, and the numbers bear it out: 67% of shoppers say a bad customer experience is their reason for leaving a brand behind. Businesses are listening, and as a result, are placing their focus on improving customer experience over other key areas like pricing and product.
So, how can retailers gain an edge over their competition when it comes to improving the in-store experience?
1. Provide more options with less space
Keeping aisles fully stocked isn’t always an option—especially during historic supply chain shortages. When a shopper comes to your store and doesn’t find the exact product they’re looking for, it can cause a negative customer experience. On the other hand, it might not make sense to stock every product you sell in your physical stores anyway. That can get messy and cluttered. We’ve seen this trend take shape in the form of streamlined stores where customers can try on clothing, test products out, or even make a purchase—without carrying the product away in a bag from the store.
This can be achieved either with staff equipped with handheld devices to take orders or through self-service kiosks located at key areas of the store. If a customer can’t find the size, color, or particular item they’re looking for, they can order it and have it shipped to the store or right to their door.
2. Give shoppers more ways to pay with fewer lines and faster checkout
Self-checkout kiosks are now used throughout retail, from grocery and convenience stores to big-box retailers. However, self-checkout shouldn’t be the only way to pay. Rather, it should be used as a way to offset long lines and labor shortages and provid
e an option for shoppers who would prefer not to interact with an employee.
Whether your checkouts are self-service, cashier-based, or both, accepting a wide range of payment options will incentivize more customers to return to your stores. For example, users that enjoy the speed and convenience of contactless payments might avoid retailers who don’t have the option if their customer experiences are otherwise similar.
3. Make the in-store experience interactive, immersive, and memorable
Online shopping may come with a level of convenience that can’t always be beaten. But brick and mortar stores still have the advantage of providing a hands-on experience with products. Even for products that are sold entirely online—like a Tesla—the in-store experience can still be a vital place to learn about a product and get a one-on-one experience.
Many retailers, like Fabletics, have turned their stores into places where communities come together around shared interests and values, stretching the definition of a traditional retail store into something more interesting.
Immersive and interactive experiences can also be a work in progress, as seen in Nike’s House of Innovation stores where the retailer tests out new ideas like a sneaker design lab, hyper-local creators, and more.
4. Happy employees that aren’t stretched thin provide a better customer experience
An Oxford University study found that happy employees are 13% more productive. Further, stores with happy employees also rank highly in customer satisfaction.
Trader Joe’s, for example, ranks highly among employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction alike. They do this by offering employees with competitive wages and benefits, but also by providing a welcoming work environment and encouraging staff to find creative ways to go above and beyond with their customers. This translates to a better in-store experience for shoppers.
5. The in-store experience can and should be digital
Whether your customers start their experience at home—like with buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS)—or they start in the store and use a self-checkout kiosk to sign up for future offers, the blending of the physical and digital shopping experience matters.
Within the store, shoppers will use smartphones to look up prices or product information. Retailers can make that process easier by providing QR codes on products or signage. Similarly, they can deploy in-aisle kiosks and enhanced price checkers where customers can learn about products, read reviews, and make informed purchases.
Want to boost the in-store experience with self-service kiosks? Get our free self-service playbook to learn how:
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