By Jeffrey Hastings
The experience you create in your retail environment can make or break your customer loyalty and brand recognition, two aspects of retail that have become increasingly important as online shopping’s popularity continues to rise. Here are a few ways you can take your customer experience to the next level.
Tell your brand story through visual merchandising
The way you display your products matters just as much as the products themselves. Presenting and displaying merchandise in a way that doesn’t properly reflect the story of your brand will confuse shoppers, complicate the shopping process, and could discourage them from returning to your store.
Retail brands go to great lengths to ensure that their website perfectly reflects the story they’re telling. Everything from the color scheme to the layout and font choice plays a part in the overall experience customers have when shopping online. In order to stay competitive, in-person shopping experiences need to do the same.
One example of a brand that is successfully implementing a merchandising style that adds to its brand story: Rockport. The shoe retailer’s stores mix the industrial, straight lines of steel with the organic warmth of real wood, juxtaposing the quality of its leather footwear with the idea that the brand is accessible, and not overly high-end or unaffordable to the average shopper.
Store locations are also easy to navigate. No shelf is overcrowded, and every style can be clearly seen from the moment a shopper enters the store.
If your displays don’t support your brand story, updating generic metal shelving and glass display cases with custom retail displays could help improve the overall experience your customers have. The better the experience, the more likely they are to remember your store and want to return.
Harness the power of the digital age
The convenience of online shopping can be difficult to compete with—but with new technologies, brick-and-mortar stores can bring the ease and convenience of online shopping right onto their sales floor.
Interactive kiosks are one way that retail stores are creating a more interactive in-person shopping experience. After grabbing the attention of browsing shoppers, LED lightboxes and touch screens highlight key products, show demonstration videos and animations, and answer questions. They can even allow for purchasing right from the aisle.
Customers will respond to the ability to learn more about your products on the sales floor without having to find a sales associate. This is particularly useful when your store has a lot of square footage for associates to cover.
If a kiosk is not on-brand for you, consider other digital and interactive merchandising products. Smaller digital additions can make a huge impact on the convenience of shopping in-store.
Use tablets at checkout areas to easily allow customers to sign up for your email mailing list or rewards program. You can also install a tablet away from the point-of-sale area to encourage shoppers to sign up for your email list without having to wait in line to do so.
Another way retailers are implementing digital technologies onto their sales floors is by installing scanning devices to help customers check product prices themselves; electronic scanners can also allow associates to look up availability of items both in-store and online for customers.
Say it with signware
As you evaluate strategies for incorporating digital communications into your store environment, don’t make the mistake of overlooking traditional signage in your retail merchandising strategy. With so many options out there, it’s easy to be overwhelmed, but finding the right signage for your physical location and the story you’re trying to convey could be the key to making sure your customers have the best experience possible.
Avoid a messy, stressful experience for your guests by using ceiling signage to guide customers through your store. Hanging signs that indicate checkout areas and the location of dressing rooms or different departments adds convenience and order without taking up precious floor space. Most hanging signs are also easy to update with new graphics or move to a new location if you change the layout of your store.
If your retail store is in a highly competitive location, using LED light boxes can help your brand stand out without going totally digital. The human eye is naturally drawn to objects and surfaces that are brighter than their surroundings, so using LED light box signage is an easy and effective way to amplify your message and create beautiful on-brand messages that attract and engage shoppers.
For your 2019 retail merchandising strategy, take the time to look around your retail store and reflect on whether it is telling the story you want it to be telling about your brand and products. Walk through your store as if you were a customer and find ways to improve the experience your shoppers will have when they step through your doors.
Jeffrey Hastings is CMO of Visual Creations.