Why the In-Store Shopping Experience is Irreplaceable

Laura-Jane Todd

Laura-Jane Todd Copywriter at Mediaworks

Thursday, July 4, 2019

There’s no denying that the shopping experience has truly transformed over time. However, it’s also important to appreciate that the in-store shopping experience is irreplaceable to any online alternatives.

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Shopping habits have changed

More of us know what we want when we walk into a shop. In fact, 98% of Gen-Z shoppers walk into shops and find what they’re looking for by themselves. We no longer start the buying process by window shopping. Instead, we’ve probably seen something on social media, scanned the reviews and made a purchase decision before we even head out the door. Of course, this doesn’t mean that retailers should give up or become less competitive, they can still grab the attention of their audience through in-store engagement and customer relationship building — two things that an ecommerce site would find difficult to achieve.

Interestingly, personalization is becoming more important to buyers. Customers want something that’s tailored to their own needs, not the masses, and what better way to find out what these are than with a face-to-face conversation? Yes, customers can fill in an online form with their customization requirements, but they don’t get to see the product until it has arrived. With an in-store experience, customers can tell the retailer their requirements and feel more confident that they’ll be carried out — this type of engagement is non-comparable to a form or live chat feature.

As well as this, people want to be entertained when they head to the store. ‘Retailtainment’ is the trend taking over the industry. It’s all about offering in-store entertainment — not necessarily to lead to direct sales but to encourage visitors to the store. This could be real-life mannequins promoting this seasons blazers for men, offering a live performance or an interactive competition that grabs attention. It’s all about thinking outside the box and offering experiences that aren’t available online. An example of this would be at the Apple Store, which often hosts different activities for customers: from learning how to make music on GarageBand to creating your own emojis!

In-store technology has come a long way

If brands are looking to survive on the high street, they must be introducing technology elements across their business, especially as we’re using it religiously at home. Some companies are being innovative when it comes to their in-store technology — after all, more time in-store can lead to better customer relationships and hopefully, sales.

At Tiffany and Co in London, visitors are able to personalize jewelry and there’s even a Tiffany perfume vending machine. These concepts have driven customers to the store and encouraged social media conversation in a way that an online experience may have struggled.

Other companies such as Made.com and IKEA encourage customers to spend more time in store with cafes and restaurants, and spend considerable amounts of time improving the in-store experience. Made.com also attaches QR codes to their products around their store to encourage users to find and make purchase online if this is the payment channel they prefer.

Customers want a holistic experience

To stand out from the competition, it’s evident that you need to create something special, and it’s clear to see that customers are after a more holistic experience. Something that brings together the physical aspects of store visits with digital aspects from online shopping. For example, 51% of respondents who use retail mobile apps use them while shopping in-store, and this is mainly to redeem in-store discounts, compare prices, view product ratings and find products. By being able to offer this all-round experience, businesses can be part of the entire customer buying journey.

You might be promoting a massive push online, but you shouldn’t be ignoring your offline space. What a customer can gain from visiting a store in person can build relationships and shape opinions in a way that an online-only brand couldn’t. With the “death of the high street” preying on the minds of many retailers, it’s important to consider all this when planning ahead.

Research provided by Quiz Clothing.

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