Dear retailers – up your in-store game: Why I’m a scared shopper
In case you haven’t heard – I’m from a small country just south of Tazzy that some refer to as God’s Own (just me?), the Land of Milk and Honey (still just me??), or to everyone else: New Zealand. A lot of Kiwis pop over to Australia for the improved shopping experience (true story – I have friends that come over for a weekend to get their Sephora fix). Australia represents a beacon of retail fantasy, the mecca of the retail experience.
Except, you’ll realise living here, that the retail experience isn’t actually all that great. It’s confusing, overwhelming and as a shopper, you’re bombarded with sales, stock and malls that you need a PhD and a constant eye on Google maps to find your way around.
I know I can’t be the only one who walks into a store looking for something simple – a top, black, size 12. There’s a queue of 10 deep to the cashier and no one to answer your question if they have this in your size. Frustrated, disappointed, you head to the wonderful world of online shopping and pay the $10 delivery fee just so you don’t have to put up with the store’s elevator music a minute longer.
There are countless stories of in-store experiences that deter customers and align their loyalty to the wonderful world of online shopping. You miss out on impulse purchases, developing a relationship with them and your brand, and risk losing them as an ongoing customer. It’s not rocket science, but very few stores get the experience right.
Because I care about the Australian retail sector and luring my New Zealand friends across the ditch for a sensational shopping experience, I’ve collated some simple suggestions to help your customers enjoy going in-store again. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but you do need to show you care.
Easy ways to improve in-store experience:
- Music: this one is definitely a no-brainer. Obviously tailor your music to your customer – I’ve been to so many stores that have music that really doesn’t cut it. It’s boring and uninteresting and the only ambience is the noise and chatter of the mannnyy shoppers in store (can you tell I live in Sydney?). Pick fun, upbeat music that will appeal to your target shopper and actually want to keep them in store.
- Improve the check-out process. I’m someone definitely hanging out for Amazon Go – I love the idea of being able to grab what I want and walk out without waiting for 10 minutes at the cashier. It can be a challenging one to get right particularly with the peaks and troughs of the day, but you should be able to forecast these and utilise your staff at these times for a seamless check-out experience.
- Use your team on the ground wisely. A lot of stores have people greeting you at the door (which is why I’m a big fan of Bunnings), who direct and assist shoppers. More stores need to consider having someone dedicated to helping customers find the right size, colour etc. to create a more efficient and easy process in store. There is always a balance between too helpful and just right, but it’s always better to be too onto it than not at all, right?
- Make it super simple – there is nothing worse than going into a store when there is a sale and not being able to find any of the normal range. There are many stores guilty of sprinkling sale items throughout the store and it essentially becomes a free-for-all and an all-round poor customer experience.
- Think creatively – fundamentally, you know your customer. Why are they coming into the store? Are they coming in for experience? If so, make it fun – host some activations of your products, could you put in a runway (if you’re a fashion retailer). There are some great store ideas from overseas and some leading AU retailers that you can replicate. If they’re coming in because they enjoy the tangible product – make it easy for them to find! Have sample products without boxes. Again, it’s not difficult, but it makes so much difference.
- Make it omnichannel – this is probably the most challenging of the suggestions. Who doesn’t love a good review? How good is it if you can review the products in store by scanning a QR code? Synchronise the pricing (there is nothing worse than a sale that’s only online or in-store) and make it easy to buy online if a product isn’t in-store (maybe even offer free shipping since the stock isn’t accessible?)
Here are some simple suggestions to make retail great again and make it a fun and enjoyable experience that those across the globe (or at least across the Tasman) will flock to. Creating an exceptional in-store experience needs to be at the forefront of strategy for all retailers and is certainly at the forefront of topics at New Retail ’19 this February. Let’s get in-store experience up to scratch and you’ll find that omnichannel becomes a LOT easier.