Despite rising trends in mobile shopping, reports show customers still want an in-store experience. There are two-fold reasons for this. First, approximately 88% of the +71% of smartphone shoppers claim to be dissatisfied with their shopping experience for various reasons including a difficult checkout process and uneasy online navigation. Second, customers still enjoy the experience of shopping just as much as the return on purchase. The limited amount of product reviews available to consumers online renders it impossible for them to fully evaluate a product. You can’t touch, smell, or hold a product unless you’re in-store, nor can you experience depth and dimension. A lot is left to the imagination and customers want to make sure they’re not imagining something that doesn’t stack up to the reality. It’s a dilemma that leaves customers wanting the in-store shopping experience to not only fuel the experience but to also get a equal or greater return on value.
Nonetheless, customers remain lured in by competitive online prices. Competitive pricing is an issue boutique stores also face, which by nature can’t offer customers rock bottom prices. Still, customers realize that essentially the value of a product can only be best determined in store – an assessment that conversely fails online, leading to a disappointed majority of 88%. Alain Michaud, a partner at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, holds that companies should be embracing a two-prong approach to get customers through the door, utilizing both social media and in-store marketing. Macy’s did just that.
Macy’s revamped their shopping strategy with a clever marriage between concierge shopping and social media. The company has taken what would have been an otherwise blanket generic marketing campaign for any competitor of comparable size and turned it inside out with a new social media strategy that invites customers in “back doors” for an experience delivering exclusivity. The company synced customized product QR codes to “provide consumers with essential tips, information on the latest trends, advice and inspiration straight from their favorite style icons.” The move helps navigate and influence the large number of online shoppers and get them through the door of an essentially brick-and-mortar company.
Getting them through the door is one thing. Getting them to come back is quite another. The global leaders in management consulting at Oliver Wymanunderstand the trigger reasons behind why storefronts continue to have trouble retaining in-store clientele. Though customers yearn for an in-store experience, it’s inconsistent service (particularly among franchises) that usually turns them away. Lending to an upwards of 10% sales improvement, Oliver Wyman sharply outlines how “consistent execution also creates a sustainable competitive advantage through a hard-to-see, hard-to-copy differentiation, a reinforced culture of customer focus, more motivated and productive employees, and lower turnover.”
It’s the little things that create a culture of customer-oriented focus and that starts with perfecting in-store service. Store-fronts can start working to incorporate a welcome/exit greeting for every customer along with ensuring that staff is oriented on catering to the customer just as much as focusing on their independent tasks. Luxury brands understand this. They not only cater to the client in-store. They establish chains based on their client demographics.
Luxury Daily, the leaders in luxury marketing, featured on article on location-tailored boutiques that provide personalized shopping. In it, writer Erin Shea notes how “Creating a store based on the local environment can make the shopping experience more exclusive and can make the boutique a destination.” Brands are additionally allowing the location to determine the type of products they feature. For example, Gucci opened two boutiques in different terminals within the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to target travelers with time for shopping.
Both boutiques focus on accessories and handbags instead of ready-to-wear pieces due to the limited time travelers will have to spend in duty-free shops and carry-on luggage space limits.” Smaller boutique stores looking to drive in-store traffic can cater to customers in the same way by listening to the needs of the local demographic and by observing shopper patterns and needs.
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