Online shopping is the bee’s knees and is a favorite for many retailers and shoppers alike. However, that doesn’t mean retail spaces and customer interactions are less important. They are more important than ever!
With many retailers scaling back and malls trending towards having more movie theatres and restaurants, how is this focus on retail locations and interactions possible?
Not all retailers are closing shop, some are only now entering the game to focus on experience and building brand awareness with their customers. Canada Goose recently announced the opening of a retail store in order to "take control of the retail experience."
“When we have these gathering places for Canada Goose fans, it builds and adds to the global halo of the brand,” president and Chief Cxecutive Officer Dani Reis said.
They understand that consumers are willing to visit stores and that provides the opportunity to convey their message through a physical space (sight, smell, sound and human interaction). A study by TimeTrade, reviewed by Retail Touchpoints, shows that 85% of consumers prefer to shop in stores for many of these reasons. This included more than just your typical baby-boomer.
The power of creating an experience
I (a self-identifying millennial) am not always a fan of going out to a store, but if I have a connection with the brand, I do not hesitate. I went shopping at a Calgary MEC location and was able to ask the sales associate questions on local hikes, he showed me some bags, and then he helped me rock-climb in their store. Did their rock-wall make their backpacks stronger? No. Did it make me want to buy more stuff? I’d like to think not. What I do know is that it was fun and brought me into the store. I left with the gear I needed and a smile from reaching the top of the wall. I had a great experience, and that is what it is about.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy rock-wall either. In the US, wireless industry giants T-Mobile and Sprint are empowering frontline staff to go the extra mile for that positive experience, and putting a face to their brands successfully through social media. Bravo.
Risks vs. benefits
As always, retail locations have risks. Customers can find busy sales associates, experience the dreaded out-of-stock conversation. These can have negative outcomes such as going to the competition for the same need, or not purchasing it at all. However, these negative experiences can be mitigated, and a clear focus on strategy can ensure more positive outcomes than negative.
Digital signage solutions can be used for education and shopping. This form of interactive display and information share is being used in Sport Chek’s flagship store.
An interactive and well run retail location allows consumers to be educated, ask questions quickly, see other products, take the product home and feel validated for spending.
More importantly, the interaction gives retailers the chance to earn the golden nugget of retail: creating a great experience that translates to the all-important brand loyalty. Nowadays, a great experience can be the only difference between your consumers choice to purchase online or in-person. That, or a super sweet rock-wall.