Experimenting with the Retail Experience
In an increasingly on-demand world, consumers expect brands to anticipate their needs and deliver personalized experiences. But that can mean vastly different things in different circumstances. Customers at some retail locations might want nothing more than to get in and out with minimal friction. (Valet parking at grocery stores, anyone?) Other times, consumers want to linger in-store as long as possible to enjoy “an immersive, sensory engagement.”
Which approach is best for your brand? That depends on the product or service you’re selling — and on obtaining a thorough understanding of your customers’ expectations.
The “store,” redefined
The word store, like the related word storage, suggests a permanent, no-frills location where goods are stockpiled for sale. And for decades that description fit the average retail store.
No more. For starters, a “store” no longer needs a permanent physical location. In fact, a store doesn’t have to have a physical location at all. Amazon is the most obvious example of a “storeless” store. Yes, there’s a physical location on the back end for fulfilling online orders, but the consumer never sees it. Which means that, as the world’s second largest retailer, Amazon has managed the neat trick of being both everywhere (ubiquitous branding) and nowhere (low overhead) at once.
Well, no, not quite nowhere. In recent years Amazon has opened physical stores in 22 states and the District of Columbia. But while Amazon has been zigging, Walmart — the ultimate big-box store, and the only retailer in the world that’s bigger than Amazon — has been zagging, having generated an estimated $16 billion in e-commerce sales in 2018.
So from the top of the retail food chain on down, successful brands are remaining relevant by selectively changing lanes and adopting just the right combination of technologies and marketing strategies to deliver new levels of experience, convenience, and total satisfaction to their target audiences.
Sounds great! What do we do now?
Successful marketing in the 21st century requires creating a self-sustaining feedback loop between the digital and the physical. Example: A digitally native vertical brand creates a physical footprint by staging “flash” events or opening popups. The idea is to create buzz — not simply to open a store, but to tell a story.
You’ll know you’ve successfully communicated your story when influencers eagerly share their experiences at your popup store or flash event on social media. That leads still more people to check out your brand both online and on location. That’s why it’s important to create an in-store experience that is not only appealing in person, but also conducive to “shareability.” (“People came to our stores just to take Instagram pictures,” Almira Cuizon, Vice President of Retail Operations at Roots, told Retail Dive.) The goal is not to leave your digital roots behind but to expand their reach to the physical realm.
That crucial last step
Finally, the entire experience has to be seamless, including the sales transaction. Especially the sales transaction. That is, after all, the whole point. So even if you create the best in-store “experience” on the planet, it will amount to an epic fail, if excessive friction (making people wait in long checkout lines, or asking them to jump through too many digital hoops, such as downloading an app) prevents the prospective customer from following through at the point of sale.
That’s where we come in. At Moltin, we can help finalize that seamless experience with mobile self checkout. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to the clumsy old method of completing a sales transaction — and neither will your customers.
But they will come back to your store. Again and again.
Try our Moltin for free today.