With more retailers focusing on their online offerings, brick-and-mortar stores are having to up their game in order to adapt. This means finding innovative ways to evolve and enhance the customer experience. Here are the key trends outlined by our team.
From here on, brands will pay more attention to integrating their digital strategy and ecommerce offerings with their in-store designs and displays. This is to maintain brand consistency and meet customer expectations, which have been raised as a result of online shopping. Retailers should pay attention to the convenience and customisation offered by online in designing omnichannel models.As Robin Lewis and Michael Dart say in their book, “The New Rules of Retail: Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace”: “‘Omni-Brand to Consumer’ means [retailers] operate on all possible distribution platforms with such superiority that they competitively pre-empt the competition, either by reaching the consumer first or by compelling the consumer to make the brand his primary destination (usually with a superior neuroexperience).”The shopper experience used to be that retailers paid extra-special attention to their store displays on peak occasions, such as the Festive Season, Valentines Day, Easter and many other seasonal opportunities. Increasing competition means the stores need to offer a stimulating, rewarding customer experience year-round, one that focuses on giving more value to the customer.
To do this, retailers should focus on offering added services and appealing to the senses to create a compelling reason for customers to enter stores.Internationally, stores like Selfridges serve as a great example of how to build brand loyalty by using innovative ways to enhance the shopping experience. Customers need to be given reasons that go beyond shopping − such as inspiration, recreation, pampering − to stay in stores. For instance, more and more clothing brands are adding restaurants or coffee shop spaces in their stores. Others offer in-store spa services.In addition to the brick-and-mortar stores, pop-up stores will increasingly take the brand ‘on the road’, allowing for shopping experiences to be more tailored to different markets.
Not surprisingly, technology is driving changes in retail and store design, in everything from point-of-sale systems and interactive, customisable displays to gathering data on foot traffic. Key areas of innovation include:
- The use of NFC (near-field communication) beacons in store. Sensors in digital touch points like shelves and displays interact with mobile devices via Bluetooth signals and offer market analytics to help personalise the shopping experience.
- Apps that make shopping interactive and easier for the shopper; or give retailers data on foot traffic (such as Swarm).
- 3D printing, for instance in jewellery stores, to help customers try designs on before making a purchasing decision.
- Wearable digital gadgets, think glasses and watches, mean retailers can directly ‘speak’ to customers entering the store.
- Cloud-based ‘tap and pay’ POS systems to replace cash registers.
- Staff being equipped with tablets and smartphones to help customers with purchase decisions.
- Using data analytics to determine in-store design
Global connectivity has resulted in more educated and conscious consumers. Shoppers want to know that they are spending their money on ethical, sustainable products that do not support child labour or ecological destruction. For this reason, store designs are increasingly incorporating the use of sustainable building materials – and customers want to make a difference as they buy. Think products that send proceeds of sales to charitable causes or good-deed projects. Retailers should draw attention to their corporate social responsibility efforts, and highlight how the customer’s purchase will make them part of do-good efforts.
Brands need to be more customer-centric. With online shopping able to cater to unique needs based on user profiles, stores will have to use data to personalise the real-life shopping experience more. Think personalised perks to loyalty-club members, rather than one-size-fits-all blanket deals.
Find out how The Clarion Group can help your brand
The Clarion Group is a long established integrated branding solutions company that can provide our customers with a full spectrum of services ranging from design to sampling, production and printing, right through to field application services on a national basis. Visit www.clarion.co.za for more information or speak directly to Caroline Currie
– Sales & Marketing Director.