We know that many customers will research online prior to visiting stores, and often revisit for value reassurance, before often returning to the store again to complete their purchases. Taking this into account, the importance placed on the in-store experience must also be followed through online to give a seamless customer experience across all channels. An experience which is already present in many stores, with multi- channel retailing forming integral touch points along the customer journey.
In this ever changing, on-demand society we currently find ourselves in, the shape of retail is ever evolving to meet the needs of customers, who now find themselves in the driving seat purchasing products and services, when they want and how they want.
The role of the physical ‘bricks and mortar’ store is changing, trends are shifting and consumer habits are becoming ever more technology driven. Customers expect more from the store than the traditional retail transaction. The physical store now needs to embrace new advances to combine and forge links between online and offline retailing. With this in mind, the store remains as important as ever.
Whilst we benefit from having shopping opportunities in the palms of our hands at all times, retail stores are now reaching out and engaging with customers through experiential retailing creating ‘stand-out’ experiences which will encourage and retain custom in store.
A great example of this is fashion brand, Adidas.
Adidas have been using pop-up stores and experiential retailing around the world to launch new products with customers being given the opportunity to create customised sportswear (i.e. shoes, sweaters) through integrated technology. Customer’s buy-into the experience and ideology of stepping into a giant shoe-box like store, and coming away with something no other person has, as well as being involved in the creative and production process prior to getting the finished article in their hands.
Customers connect truly with emotional experiences and this is where physical retail has the upper hand over online retailing. Meaningful relationships are formed and people make stronger connections with brands through human interaction. A benefit of this is when the customer takes away a positive experience which in turn leads them online for future/additional purchases, through trust for the brand.
Through social media portals consumers can share experiences instantly. Understanding social commerce and the level of online reach which the consumer’s voice has across this channel is undoubtedly an important element in the success of any retail brand today.
Whilst meeting all these demands, the physical store still needs to traditionally represent and depict the ‘brand story’ throughout and is usually the end point for all other brand promotion activity.
Ultimately, the product must be ‘King’ after all, this is the only portal where consumers can see, touch and interact with physical products. As much as the use of ‘Smart’ technology is introduced into our everyday lives, it is difficult to imagine anything which can replace this retail experience.
Successful store interiors supported by effective visual merchandising should elevate the product and inspire customers beyond their expectations.