Retail thrive series: Creating an in-store experience that delights your customers

The shopping landscape in Aotearoa is changing. Many retailers are increasingly focussing their efforts online. But this doesn’t mean your storefront should suffer. While it’s important to have an online presence, many customers still enjoy going into shops and seeing products physically before either purchasing in your premises or at home. That’s what omni and multi-channel retailing is all about – creating a seamless and enjoyable experience across all the various channels you utilise.

With the busiest season for high street retail about to begin, it’s important your storefront is an appealing prospect, one that invites customers in and encourages them to return. While online retail is all about convenience and ease of use, your storefront is about creating an experience for your customers that delights them – one that they look forward to going into and will make the effort to engage with in-person.

Organisation is key

The first step in achieving this is ensuring your store is well organised. It should be easy to navigate and make sense for the customer, with items grouped around different themes in a logical order. According to Divya Pahwa, BDO Retail Associate Director, organisation is key: “Even if retailers introduce a new range of products or brands, if the in-store organisation of products is not good, it can impact people’s enjoyment of that shopping experience as a result.”  

A good way to do this is by putting yourself into your customer’s shoes and walking around the store. Is everything organised in a way that makes sense to the customer? What little touches can you include that make your storefront an enjoyable experience – think about all the senses, could you burn scented candles or have fresh flowers? What music can you play that will suit your customer? We’re coming into Christmas, so offering sustainable gift wrapping is another great way to show that coming into your store is worth the effort.

Bringing your point of difference to your storefront

As with any business, it’s essential to think of your point of difference – why should a customer come into your shop as opposed to a competitor’s? Why should they come in at all if they can order online? “Take the time to understand what it is that you provide that others can’t,” says Justin Martin, BDO Retail National Leader. “It might be a particular range of baked goods or it might be highly knowledgeable staff that can answer all your queries. When you’ve worked this out, make sure your point of difference comes through at every touch point in your store.”

Your staff are perhaps your most important asset in your storefront, and can be the make or break for whether someone enjoys the shopping experience. It’s essential you are offering them regular training to make sure they are engaging well with your customers and are knowledgeable about the products you are selling and where to find items.

At the same time, it’s important to find opportunities for automation so that customers who want to can come through your store quickly and efficiently. This can include self check outs, but also automated stock management systems that ensure that whenever you’re running low on stock an order is automatically put through, so you never run out of the stock that your customers need. Automation is particularly useful for retailers struggling to recruit staff in the current environment.

It's great to ask for feedback around your in-store experience so you can continuously improve. “Automation is also an opportunity for you to ask customers for this feedback,” says Greg Harford, Retail NZ CEO. “For example many retailers use eftpos terminals that ask a question as the customer goes to pay. This will enable you to ask targeted questions around what could be improved in the store and whether people are generally happy with your storefront. Point of sale is also an opportunity to ask customers whether they are signed up to your loyalty scheme or marketing communications.”

While retailers have largely focussed on the digital sphere through COVID-19, the high street is still an important part of your shopping experience – knowledgeable staff and an enjoyable shopping experience can be the make or break for customer loyalty.   

For more information on how to help see your retail business thrive, contact our specialist retail business advisory team.

Check out Retail NZ’s Shop Nice resources to promote good in-store environments for your staff.

This article is the fifth and final part of our retail thrive content series.