Brick and Mortar Shoppers Are Looking for a Better Store Experience. Here’s How Retailers Can Deliver.

Despite the rise of online shopping, brick and mortar retail is still successful in the digital age—90% of purchases are happening offline in physical locations. However, if retailers want to maintain these numbers moving forward, they need to focus on revamping their in-store experience. As consumers are increasingly digital and mobile, the purpose of a physical retail location has moved far beyond simply “a place to buy a product.” Customers can buy a product online and have it shipped to their front door. Brick and mortar stores need to offer something more- an improved experience that will surprise and delight their customer and encourage repeat visits. These experiences should supplement the brand, and add to whatever product or service the retailer offers.

Sephora, for example, has started to roll out their “Beauty TIP (Teach Inspire, Play) Workshop” concept stores. In the 7 existing concept stores, a Beauty Workshop Station is located at the center of the store, offering makeup classes to customers from Sephora Facilitators. These classes are supplemented by Sephora’s Virtual Artist Technology, which allows customers to try on makeup products completely virtually on installed iPads, eliminating the need for guesswork or messy sample swatches when it comes to deciding on a product to buy. Their stores are transformed from a place to buy makeup into a destination for makeup education, practice, and inspiration. By offering opportunities for education, Sephora creates value in their existing locations.

In a different application of in-store improvements, Staples has teamed up with Workbar to make better use of extra store space in Staples locations. Because many businesses now order their office supplies from Staples online, there is less need to have as many products on display in stores. “Workbar At Staples” is leveraging this in-store shift by creating co-working spaces inside Staples stores for individual or small business use. The spaces include tables, charging stations, conference rooms, and private phone rooms, all available for a monthly fee. The Workbar effort brings more traffic into Staples stores, and creates a new opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to rent an affordable workspace with access to photocopying, computers and Wi-Fi. Staples moves from a place to buy office supplies to an actual office, with ample supplies on-hand.

While both Sephora and Staples are creating value in their store experience through physical changes to their stores, retailers don’t necessarily need to remodel their store interiors to create better experiences for customers. By implementing retail technology like digital location signals and taking advantage of mobile presence in-store, retailers can offer relevant and timely content to their shopper’s mobile devices. Product recommendations based on previous shopping history, targeted offers, and exclusive mobile content all can optimize a shopping experience, generating loyalty among customers. In the case of Sephora and Staples, indoor mobile marketing could assist their new initiatives by prompting customers to sign up for classes or reserve a conference room when they walk into the store.

Making brick and mortar retail less transactional and more experiential is going to be what drives successful retailers this year and beyond. Indoor mobile marketing is a great way to enhance the shopping experience with relevant and value-added digital content. Whether it’s in-store events, special offers, or a shopping experience that can’t be delivered anywhere else, retailers need to show customers why it’s worth making the trip to their stores.


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