As a small business owner, how are you evolving the in-store experience? As customers' expectations rise, be sure you're keeping up!
While the pandemic has certainly accelerated the rise of e-commerce and digital convenience services, physical spaces still play a major role in providing customers with a memorable shopping experience. In fact, a recent survey found that more than half of consumers (65%) still want to shop in stores versus online.
Here are 5 tips to consider when updating your own small shop’s in-store experience to meet the expectations of today’s consumers:
- Rethink your layout: While providing a great in-store experience has always been integral to the success of retailers, the priorities of today’s consumers has shifted. Whereas merchandising strategies typically revolved around getting a customer to stay within your physical store for a longer period of time, now, it’s all about enabling quick and convenient shopping. You should still aim to provide the best experience possible, but cleanliness, safety, and facilitating a quick and hassle-free checkout process are now paramount to build and maintain credibility with your customers.
- Make your products the experience: The ability to see, touch, and engage with your products will always be a tangible benefit of operating a physical store spaces vs. an e-commerce shop. Pass out samples, host demonstrations, and encourage your shoppers to try out and try on merchandise before they make a purchase. These are all ways to make shopping for your products an experience in and of itself.
- Turn your small shop into a hub for community connection: The pandemic interrupted virtually all relationships, as we were forced to connect digitally rather than in-person, and remain apart from friends and family. Now that we can safely get together again, drive foot traffic by turning your own small shop into a hub for the personal human connection we all so crave. Partnering with other local businesses, area non profits, or even local social media influencers and inviting them to host events for the community within your space is a great way to bring people together, while simultaneously spreading brand awareness for your business.
- Prioritize relationship-building: As a local shop owner, you likely focus on sales and the “numbers side” of your business above all, but don’t forget that shopping is about much more than just a transaction; it is also a very emotional experience. As consumers, we often make purchases based on our own mood, stress level, or simply because of how a staff member treated us and made us feel when we entered their store that day. Keep this personal and human connection you have with your guests at the core of everything you do as a business owner. Remembering a repeat customer’s name and offering a friendly greeting each and everytime they visit your business can go a long way in building relationships and earning their loyalty.
- Don’t shy away from digital technology: While the digital world may seem like the antithesis of brick and mortar retail, it’s important to embrace what technology has to offer in providing your customers with a more personalized in-store experience. From emailing one-of-a-kind offers to providing the ability to purchase items online then pick in store, there are so many digital opportunities to embrace as ways that online can truly help (and not hinder) your business.
Creating a personalized in-store experience to meet consumers’ expectations can be both challenging and exciting for a small business owner today. Those that win will be the ones that remain agile and willing to adapt to evolving expectations!