Brick and mortar ISN’T dead.
While real, the retail apocalypse has been dramatized and exaggerated. Sure, many stores, big and small, have been forced to shutter due to the rise of ecommerce and omnichannel shopping, as well as a litany of other reasons. Or, rather, excuses.
The real bottom line? The large department stores and small mom-and-pop stores that have had to close in recent years didn’t adapt to meet the needs of the modern customer.
Though some may say that the retail apocalypse is a negative thing, the best store owners know that it’s actually an opportunity. If you put real effort into finding out what today’s customers want and expect, it’s possible to not only survive but thrive.
So, what does the modern customer want in retail?
Today’s customers want a great in-store experience that includes a great layout, awesome customer service when they need it, online/offline integration, a seamless payment experience, and a loyalty program.
A simple store layout
What does your store layout say about your brand? If you display claustrophobic aisles packed with boxes and stuff all over the floor, and dust everywhere, it isn’t saying anything positive to your customers.
If your shelves are too high, customers might feel lonely.
If you’ve created a maze of shelves, your customers may feel confused and frustrated.
If your products are shelved haphazardly, customers might struggle to find what they need.
If you don’t have enough fitting rooms, customers may start to feel impatient waiting in line.
Lonely. Confused. Frustrated. Impatient. As you can see, your store layout matters more than you think. It can and will evoke a number of different emotions from shoppers. Negative emotions = negative brand association. Yikes. Don’t want that.
With every store layout decision that you make, keep the modern customer top of mind. Take the right steps to create a smooth and pleasant shopping experience and you’ll be rewarded with loyalty.
Awesome customer service
One of the top reasons why people still shop in store rather than online is customer service. When it comes to certain types of purchases (like electronics, for example), customers appreciate an employee’s help, expert opinion, and recommendation.
As always, excellent in-store customer service is key. But for the modern customer, it can mean the difference between brand loyalty and forgetting your store exists.
In-store interactions can help make the shopping experience more personalized and pleasant, so it’s important to continue to prioritize human interactions (yup, even in the world of tech). This is especially true if you’re fighting ecommerce.
It’s easy to overdo it, though. There are some stores (and employees) who, bless their hearts, simply try too hard. They ask you if you need help or a fitting room 5 times in 10 minutes, putting too much pressure on you to buy, and making you run away as fast as possible. So, don’t be that guy. Offer customer service when it’s needed and back off when it’s not.
Like it or not, ecommerce is here to stay. That being said, the lines between brick and mortar and ecommerce are beginning to blur more and more every day. If you have both an online shop and a brick-and-mortar store, know that the modern customer expects a consistent, integrated, and streamlined experience.
This can mean many things:
- Paying online and picking up in store (or buying in store and getting delivery)
- Getting the same look, feel, and experience on every sales channel
- Accessing an online shopping cart from any device without losing items
- Buying online and returning in store
- Having access to the same products everywhere
- Getting the same discounts whether they shop online or off
- Being enabled to use the same payment methods online and off
A seamless payment experience
People WILL remember your checkout process, especially if it’s bad.
Some things that create a bad checkout experience people hate include:
- Long lines
- Slow, outdated payment terminals
- A lack of new payment methods
- Being asked for a postal code or email address
The modern customer expects speed and convenience at the checkout. This includes being able to pay with their preferred payment method (like Apple Pay or WeChat Pay), getting in and out of your checkout lines quickly, and having peace of mind that their payment info is secure. It may also mean having the option to pay with instant customer financing.
Honestly, customers love points. They love free stuff. They love discounts.
This hasn’t changed with the modern customer. In fact, it’s still a key way to stand apart from your competitors, attract shoppers, and boost customer retention.
Offering a loyalty program directly on your payment terminal during checkout (and online) is a great way to meet customer expectations. Bonus: you’ll get customer data from your loyalty program that can help you personalize the shopping experience and allow you to make more informed business decisions.
To stay relevant and retain your competitive edge, ensure you’re keeping up with the expectations of today’s modern customer.