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Tips For Improving In-Store Customer Experience

Improving the in-store customer experience is key for retail businesses to increase foot traffic into the physical store. As technology continues to advance, the world has become increasingly digital — this impacts individuals as well as businesses of all sizes. For retail businesses, the popularity of e-commerce has had a significant effect as customers choose online shopping versus a visit to a physical store. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports retail e-commerce in the United States increased by 16 percent in 2017 versus the previous year.

 

To attract and retain customers, focus on ways to improve the customer experience. From speeding the checkout process to building customer relationships, these actionable tips can make a difference.

Improving the in-store customer experience is key for retail businesses to increase foot traffic into the physical store. As technology continues to advance, the world has become increasingly digital — this impacts individuals as well as businesses of all sizes. For retail businesses, the popularity of e-commerce has had a significant effect as customers choose online shopping versus a visit to a physical store. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports retail e-commerce in the United States increased by 16 percent in 2017 versus the previous year.

 

To attract and retain customers, focus on ways to improve the customer experience. From speeding the checkout process to building customer relationships, these actionable tips can make a difference.

 

Faster Checkout

Slow checkout can annoy, even anger some customers. The longer a customer waits to make a purchase, the more likely that customer is to give up and walk away with nothing in hand. The simple solution is to fully staff registers on busy days. Show customers the store cares about their time and is making an effort to serve them as quickly as possible.

 

Another option is mobile registers that make it easy for associates to check out customers from the floor — easing pressure from the main counter area. Keep customers engaged while waiting by assigning an associate to answer questions, offer coupons for future visits, and direct traffic to keep lines moving efficiently.

 

Family-Friendly

Visiting retail stores with kids frustrates even the most patient parent and contributes to more families shopping online. Create a family-friendly shopping experience to boost your store’s foot traffic. Sales associates need to welcome families and be aware that a smile goes a long way. If possible, set up a kid-friendly play station with a few toys, books and paper/crayons. When hosting a special in-store event, consider an associate-supervised kids’ craft station for the occasion. There’s a better chance parents will visit your store when they know their kids have something fun to do while they shop.

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Loyalty Rewards

Punch and stamp cards have been a staple of loyalty rewards for years because these programs work. Digital loyalty rewards via your store’s app is another option. Customers love to know they’re valued and are more likely to return as regulars when offered loyalty incentives. Beyond rewards for dollars spent or items purchased, loyalty rewards can be expanded into members-only exclusives such as gift-with-purchase items, early-bird sales and access to special events.

Engage the Senses

People don’t shop with only their eyes. The overall in-store customer experience improves when several senses are engaged. Music selection and volume level are important. For most retail stores, background music that doesn’t stay in the background is a customer turn-off. Sound level should enhance the shopper’s mood.

 

Just as the smell of freshly baked cookies is used to entice guests at a real estate open house, the aromas in-store can attract or repel customers. Intense scents (e.g., too antiseptic or strong perfume) can make a customer leave. Keep it subtle, relying on a signature scent that customers can associate with your store.

 

Utilize Technology: QR Codes

QR codes are making a comeback. Enhance the customer’s in-store experience by using QR code technology to offer additional product information or even unadvertised specials.

 

Host Special Events

Special events generate in-store foot traffic, bringing new customers or former regulars who need a reason to return. Create regular events tied to loyalty programs or a specific day, such as “Family-Day Friday.” Host in-store demonstrations, awareness campaigns and promos that work with your product/brand.

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One-on-One Customer Engagement

One of the most vital opportunities a physical store can provide that online shopping can’t is personal engagement. The in-store shopping experience needs to be personal with one-on-one customer engagement. When retail associates smile, are pleasant and actively listen to the shopper, sales can improve. Kindness may seem like a simple idea, but it has a big impact.

 

Technology makes it so easy to one-click anything a shopper desires. However, if you can create a unique offline experience for your customers, foot traffic could improve. Make it a personal and pleasant experience, giving the customer a reason to walk into your store.

 

 

 

Author bio: Robin Brower is Senior Vice President of Business Development at OPTO, where she leads the design and business development teams. Brower built the design department from scratch in 1983 and has been the organization’s lead designer for the past 35 years.  

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