Even as the rest of the world moves to the Internet, more than 92 percent of retail shopping occurs in brick-and-mortars. However, the uniquely digital ability to gather individual user information and use it to guide online shopping experiences has transformed the way modern shoppers buy goods.
For example, IBM reports that 58 percent of consumers want more product information displayed in stores, and 42 percent demonstrate a higher likelihood of returning to stores who send out targeted promotional material. The research is in: Customers love shopping at retailers that work hard to personalize the experience like they’re used to online.
So, how do you change your store to fit customers’ new expectations of personalization? Here are plenty of quick, inexpensive updates you can make to your physical and online presence to make customers feel more welcome and at ease.
Identify Your Customers
Before you can take steps to transforming your store to your customers’ dream shopping experience, you have to know who your customers are and how they like to shop. Research has identified eight common shopper personas, each of which shops in a distinct way:
Caretakers. Would rather repair than replace.
Indulgent shoppers. Willing to spend lavishly for pleasure.
Mechanists. Interested in comparing quality and finding the best option.
Students. Driven to purchase entirely by data and research
Gradualists. Searching only for the best immediate price.
Sophisticates. Willing to pay high prices for the best products.
Conventionals. Undemanding and adherent to common shopping behavior.
Advocates. Fiercely loyal to brands that gain their support.
In order to understand your customers’ shopping preferences, you need to collect data on them. Either as soon as a customer enters your store or when s/he checks out, you can ask them to provide some basic information, like name, phone number, and email address. Then, by keeping track of individual customers’ purchases, you will gradually compile data on how most of your customers shop. Eventually, you will be able to narrow your customer pool down to one or two major personas, and then you can begin personalizing your retail experience for them.
Post Info on Your Products
The Internet has made all sorts of information widely available, and consumers are now using the Internet to inform nearly all of their purchasing decisions. Thus, it should come as no surprise that most of the eight personas listed above prefer to understand the available products before they buy.
You can make your customers’ shopping experience easier and more personal by doing their research for them. Next to some, most, or all of your products, you can adhere bits of information, like specs, recommendations, or comparisons. Alternatively, you can post QR codes that lead customers’ smartphones and tablets to informative pages on your store’s website. Then, your customers will spend more time in your store and less time online, where they might find the same products for less money.
Many major brands are experimenting with highly interactive store displays that grab and hold the attention of shoppers with entertainment and novelty. For example, the LEGO Store uses Microsoft’s Kinect technology to capture the movements of shoppers walking by, and on a giant television screen in the store window, shoppers are transformed into LEGO characters in a free video game. Similarly, Bloomingdales has allowed shoppers to virtually try on sunglasses and clothing with screens instead of dressing rooms.
Of course, you probably don’t have the funds to create such technologically savvy displays. For the most part, technology is simply doing the work of engaging and knowledgeable sales staff. As long as
your product displays are appropriately eye-catching, you can use inexpensive wire shelving to display your products. Then, you should hire and train personable and professional staff to interact with your customers in the way they desire.
Even as the Internet takes away some retailers’ business, you shouldn’t be afraid to turn to the Web to increase your in-store sales. With various social media accounts, you have the power to directly address your customers at home like you’ve never been able to before. However, there are right ways and wrong ways to wield the power of the Web, and countless companies have blundered ignorantly into the digital world only to alienate most of their customers. Before you start posting online, you should do some research into social media marketing tips and tricks; soon enough, you’ll be a master of personalization online an in-person.