The retail sector is used to bustling sales and packed shoppers during bank holiday weekends. However, the latest data showed a sharp drop of 1.9% in footfall on bank holiday Monday compared to August 2018. Why has this decline occurred? Why are high streets failing to generate equal or higher numbers of shoppers such as they previously enjoyed?
The answer is simple: the consumer in-store retail experience has become too boring for consumers to remain engaged. This can be due to multiple reasons, which could range from dull in-store merchandise layout to bad customer service. Alternatively, the ‘omni channel experience’, where online and retail consumption combine, has become increasingly popular. This has allowed consumers to not only get the best deal but also the best product for them and in the nick of time.
However, the in-store retail experience remains a crucial aspect of their purchase decision. So how can retailers improve their performance and deliver the standard excellent customer service their consumers expect from them?
Hire sales promoters
Sales promoters can talk about the product with immense enthusiasm! In turn, customers can see and touch the product and so better understand its features. If they believe your sales promoter, they’ll almost certainly recommend you to their family and friends. Retailers need a consumer’s trust and that’s hard in an age where we receive daily information overload. Hiring a sales promoter, who becomes an ‘expert’, provides your customer with a real conversational channel. This helps build trust and customer loyalty.
Hire influencers to review your products
Influencers create communities in which their voice is heard and trusted. Integration into a community that resonates with a retailer’s latest product almost instantly ensures that the marketing hits the relevant target audience.
So, find the correct influencers, get them to review your product and create clickable links to retail to drive your bottom-line sales. Better still co-create content with your influencer, propagate it across both your and their social media channels and spread the buzz to reap that sweet nectar in the form of sales.
Incentivise consumers through schemes
Everyone is looking for a deal and the best one they can find. In the digital age, it’s easy to make price comparisons and make your buck go a little further. However, consumers would be guaranteed to make that trip if offered in-store exclusive incentives, such as a ‘try before you buy’ or ‘one-time new buyer offer’.
Furthermore, brands have introduced immersive technology in stores. For instance, featuring augmented reality-based activities to ‘test’ product in stores demonstrates the real dimensions of the product to the customer (in case that particular product is not on display). Immersive technology in stores can therefore open a realm of possibilities that the retail world has never seen before and which in turn enhances the retail experience.
Introduce experiential in store experiences
One thing is for sure: experiential retail is the future. By creating a more immersive retail experience, retailers can drive customers towards their stores and give them a memorable visit that they won’t forget! Ikea has done a good job at adopting this strategy. They held a competition to win a sleepover at their store to promote their range of mattresses.
This experiential initiative was successful in every way: more consumers walked through the doors, interest about mattresses peaked, digital presence increased and more revenue was generated from the advertised range of bedding. Overall, experiential marketing isn’t about spending millions on fancy gadgets for your retail store; it’s about smart and meaningful interactions with products and issues your consumers care about. Give the expected consumer the unexpected and make them feel they’ve entered a new world.
The future of in-Store
If there is any key takeaway from this article, it is that although digital technology may have disrupted the retail sphere, the consumer experience within retail stores can be improved. A crucial part of a consumer’s experience still remains heavily rooted in good in-store experience and impeccable in-store customer service. Consumers need to also remain immersed in the in-store experience. So by Christmas, the future of in-store retail, if improved through our proposed strategies, will definitely drive footfall back on to the high street.
Lauren Tauben, managing director of Agent42