New brands are springing up in the retail space every day. Those ones that want to stand out and retain their customers must focus on providing a memorable shopping experience.
- The retail experience includes all the retailer's interactions with a buyer, from product discovery to purchase
- Cross-channel shopping, tech-enabled buying, personalization, in-store experiences, and social selling make a good retail experience in 2022
- Citadium, Warby Parker, and Lush offer some of the most innovative and engaging retail experiences in the market
Layla was one of many retail shoppers who switched to online shopping when the pandemic hit. When asked why she shops online, she quips, “I’m an impulsive buyer. Once my cart is full, completing a purchase takes 15 minutes, tops.”
Thousands of retail shoppers echo Layla’s sentiment. According to a Scandit report, 47% of customers surveyed abhor the long queues in physical stores. In fact, 43% avoid in-store shopping because of limited product availability. Instead, they prefer shopping online, given the quick and frictionless checkout and wide product selection.
43% of customers avoid in-store shopping because of limited product availability
On the other hand, many shoppers still prefer brick-and-mortar stores. They want to try out their items before making a purchase, and receive their goods immediately, alongside the actual physical experience of shopping in a store. This is why after a period of low footfall since 2020, shopper numbers in retail stores have increased in 2022,
With such a wide variation in customer expectations, what makes a good retail experience today?
The recipe for a good retail experience in 2022
The buyer's interactions with a retailer, from product discovery to purchase, form the retail experience. Ensuring repeat business by giving customers the best possible shopping experience comes down to five things;
- Omni-channel shopping: Customers today expect retailers to provide the convenience of online shopping alongside the personalization offered in-store. They want to switch from a digital shopping channel to a physical one and have a frictionless experience. 55% even admit to shopping more with retailers that provide such blended retail journeys. Businesses that want to retain buyers must consider integrating data from different channels, consolidating payments, and creating unified commerce solutions.
- Tech-enabled buying experiences: A survey revealed that 29% of consumers expected in-store employees to quickly assist them with shopping queries. When shopping over the internet too, buyers expect prompt customer service. They want to sort out occasional order issues without going through the hassle of contacting a service desk. Many retailers today are adopting technology to help with this. They use AI chatbots and mobile apps to help in-store and online shoppers navigate common customer problems, in order to promote self-service and reduce costs.
- Personalization: Consumers desire relevant product recommendations based on intent and past shopping behavior. Based on research, 80% of buyers would even recommend brands that provided such experiences to their family and friends. By investing in personalization efforts like tracking customer behavior on-site and customizing offers and email messages, brands can create unique and engaging customer journeys for buyers. This boosts brand loyalty.
- Creating a novel in-store experience: With online stores simplifying shopping for customers, the brick-and-mortar store is no longer the hub of the shopping experience. Retail companies must find new ways of ensuring customers keep returning to their stores. This could mean conducting in-store events, allowing consumers to shop in immersive new ways through virtual fitting rooms, and even using technology to make navigation around the store more interactive.
- Social shopping: Customers use social media as a discovery tool, and now they expect retailers to provide seamless shopping experiences on these platforms. Brands must therefore consider having an active social media presence and create unique yet relevant content to attract consumers. This way, they can connect with potential buyers, engage with them and differentiate themselves from their competition. Social shopping might still be nascent. But with a growth rate of 28.4 annually, it is set to revolutionize retail.
Brands with engaging retail experiences: Citadium, Warby Parker, Lush
Citadium, a Parisian department store, focuses on providing its customers with various experiential offerings. These range from arcade games and gumball machines to live events. The retailer allows potential buyers to enjoy their time at the retail store, and creates multiple opportunities for distinctive experiences.
Also, it uses a click-and-collect system to drive footfall. This means a buyer can order a product online and collect it from the physical store. All these efforts have largely paid off, and the retail brand currently has an annual turnover of $25.4 million thanks to these efforts.
In 2010, Warby Parker started out as a glasses retailer and shipped products chosen by customers on their website right to their door, so that they could try them on in the comfort of their own home. The retailer has recently implemented augmented reality (AR) into its app, allowing shoppers to try glasses virtually. The app integrates seamlessly with multiple payment modes and provides timely product updates. Also, Warby Parker has a secondary app that allows customers to update their prescription after an in-home eye exam.
Warby Parker goes the extra mile to provide its customers with a convenient and luxurious D2C experience. The brand now has 2.26 million active customers thanks to this approach. And that number is steadily growing.
Lush broke the saturated ethical, low-waste cosmetics market by adopting a no-packaging approach. Customers can use the Lush app inside the store. They can point their phones toward the products and use the in-built AR tool to get product information, ingredients, usage, and application directions.
In 2021, the brand went one step further and revamped its e-commerce experience. They introduced a quicker checkout process, added more payment modes, enabled a live chat facility, and improved search optimization.