Physical stores aren’t going away any time soon. According to National Retail Federation, 80% of purchases now take place in stores. After years of isolated shopping and dining at home, people are eager to return to their communities.
And yet, COVID has changed consumer expectations, permanently. Additionally, inflation, high gas prices and other monetary pressures influence where and how people spend. consumers want flight to value: convenience, affordability and added value. Many of our customers at Imagine ask how they can connect their customers’ online experience to the offline experience that only brick and mortar can deliver.
The trick to achieving it in such a difficult landscape? Agility.
To be more nimble, retailers need to up their game and demonstrate to customers why their unique assortment of merchandise not only meets their needs, but is better experienced in-store rather than online. Let’s look at some of the ways you can attract in-person buyers by making your brick and mortar stores in a destination and an experiment.
1. Set the scene
The environment of your store is crucial. It goes beyond what’s on your shelves or the friendliness of your customer service staff. A customer’s experience in your store begins and ends in your parking lot, and encompasses their entire journey inside.
How can you make it as easy as possible to walk through the door, find the products you want, and complete the purchase? At the same time, how can you create moments in your store to encourage customers to stop and interact with the products and services you promote?
The following tips will help you organize your customer journey so it’s worth repeating over and over again.
2. Be strategic with signage
Your signage can be used in strategic layers to optimize in-store navigation, increase sales and boost brand image.
There are four types of signs to consider: environmental, promotional, cross-promotional, and navigational. Environmental signs contribute to the overall look of your stores, remain in place for an extended period of time, and should be closely related to your brand. Promotional and cross-promotional signs are seasonal and draw attention to special, limited-edition products. Navigation signage helps customers find what they need in your store.
Layered effectively with the right message, signage is your best tool for articulating the flight to the value your customers want.
Not only can it choreograph a stress-free and efficient experience, but signage can also be used to encourage exploration and time spent by highlighting valuable promotions, encouraging rewards program sign-ups, and attracting attention. on products and services.
3. Tap into design
Thanks to social media, our world is more visual than ever. The design of a retail location can greatly influence the in-store experience. Who hasn’t stopped to snap a photo on social media when they come across interesting decor and other unique design elements?
Also, the design does not have to be unique. For national retailers, custom design at the regional level helps maximize relevance to local audiences. For instance, we have partnered with Meijer grocery stores to produce a compelling 14′ x 5′ community spotlight area. This environmental element combines historically relevant photos with fun community information. For Meijer’s urban stores, we curated a hand-painted map and incorporated locally sourced mixed media elements, like reclaimed wood, into the store design.
At Imagine, we use state-of-the-art variable data printing to help our partners leverage localization and maximize impact. Our technology can run multiple custom designs at once, delivering hyper-relevant and profitable content at retail speed.
4. Prioritize staffing and training
From supply chain uncertainty, to cost inflation, to a looming recession: retailers face major challenges. Another hurdle? Recruitment. Hiring the right people, training them properly, and treating them well promotes a positive reputation for your brand in addition to improving the customer experience.
Signage might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to staffing.
But imagine this: a shipment of seasonal POP material arrives at one of your locations. A part-time employee clocks in his shift between university classes and is responsible for installing the new equipment. He opens a box and finds a myriad of different parts, and no instructions. He looks around and sees five more signal boxes; discouraged and overwhelmed, he pulls out his phone instead.
Another scenario: A retired teacher takes a few shifts to get out of the house, stay active, socialize, and get your employee discount. She loves her job, but there’s one monthly task she hates: swapping bits and aisle violators. Her arthritis and complex connection points make it difficult for her.
Bottom line: If your signage solutions are difficult to install, chances are they’ll be thrown away (and your employees will get frustrated).
If you’re thinking, “Not my stores!” “, think again.
We recently partnered with a Over 10,000 retailers to audit their in-store marketing. We discovered that on average, store employees were throwing away 2 out of 3 signs, which was a huge waste of marketing money. Additionally, signage compliance and store performance were highly correlated, highlighting the opportunity for the customer to experience significant savings. and profit.
Building on this, we redesigned its process and achieved a labor reduction across the store of almost 17,000 hours per year. This, in turn, freed up employees to serve customers consistently and efficiently.
Ensuring that your signage is simple to set up and take down, and that each store gets exactly what it needs, is key to maximizing the impact of your marketing investments. Imagine has the technology and innovative solutions that simplify compliance.
5. Adopt integrated technology
Even before the pandemic, the world was going through a digital transformation. But when COVID hit, the transformation accelerated to a fever pitch.
Suddenly everything had being online, from kindergarteners in remote school to grandmothers ordering grocery delivery. And guess what? It has permanently changed the way we live our lives.
Knowing this, how to integrate digital into a physical store experience to meet the expectations of your customers? What is the relationship between the digital shelf and the store shelf?
There are many ways to embrace digital. One solution that has been successful for several clients is personalized QR codes. Easier than ever to use, QR codes can be added to signage throughout the store, guiding shoppers to promotions, loyalty programs, menus and other specialty offers.
Mobile apps are also a great way to incorporate technology, when done right. Applications should be fluid and add value. List builders, store maps, app-only promotions, and strong Wi-Fi are just a few of the ways our customers drive more online/offline interactions, adding to that search for value they seek. .
6. Consider adaptability
If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we are resilient; and when we are flexible, we can adapt to changing consumer demands. Health and safety messages may have been paramount a year ago, but today’s consumer is looking for value and more for their money.
Imagine is your partner to stay agile in these dynamic market conditions. Many of the world’s best-loved brands rely on Imagine as a strategic partner because we have the resources and experience to bring about change quickly.
Our expertise and close industry ties give our partners the ability to adapt when plans need to change. For decades, we’ve been trusted to deliver stunning visual communications, uncompromising service, and innovative solutions that transform brick and mortar from average to extraordinary.
Ready to transform your physical experience? Download our checklist to get started.