How To Create In-Store Customer Experiences That Drive Traffic and Sales

Competition in retail is as fierce as ever, as the rise of e-commerce has created more options for consumers.

However, e-commerce has not spelled the end of brick and mortar. The in-store experience is still a vital part of the overall customer experience. In fact, Square’s Future of Retail report found that 92% of consumers still enjoy shopping in person, despite the convenience of buying online.

So if you’re struggling to bring in traffic, know that e-commerce doesn’t have to be an obstacle to attracting customers to your store. You simply need to offer customers compelling reasons to visit you in person, drawing them in with the benefits and excitement of in-store shopping.

Essentially, you need to answer the question, “Why should I leave the house and visit your store when I can order everything online?”

Creating in-store customer experiences that drive traffic and sales requires crafting engineered customer journeys based on what your customers need and value before, during, and after a sale.

Create a Knowledgeable, Welcoming Staff With Effective Employee Training

Your staff are the most important element of your in-store experience, since they interact with your customers every day. If you’re struggling to bring traffic into your store (especially if your return traffic rates are low), you need to step up your game in regards to hiring, training, and staff development.

Because a customer’s purchasing decisions can be influenced by your staff, it's crucial to make sure they know your products well. Store employees should be seen by customers as expert consultants for the products and brands you carry. They should be able to thoroughly and effectively explain the benefits and value of your products to prospective customers.

But training staff on your products is only the beginning: your employees also need to connect meaningfully with your customers. Warm, welcoming, professional employees will help you attract more new visitors to your store and keep return visit rates high.

Offer Hands-On Product Experiences

One big difference between an online store and an in-store shopping experience is the ability to offer a tactile experience: an opportunity for customers to see and handle products in person.

The in-store experience gives customers the chance to engage with your products before they buy. Offer them a showroom experience, finding experiential ways to present your merchandise so customers can get their hands on it. Let them touch products, turn them on, push buttons, and so on.

Build Community With Fun In-Store Events and Learning Opportunities

Retail stores aren’t just places to buy things—they’re an important part of the fabric of the surrounding community. It’s important to find ways to bring people together and let customers experience your brand in new ways.

Incorporate customer events to give people the chance to learn something new about your products and to interact with your expert team and others who share their interests. For example:

  • Bring in an industry professional or brand representative to showcase new products or teach customers about the ins and outs of their top sellers.

  • Throw customer appreciation events with food, sales, free gifts with purchase, and so on.

  • Provide digital learning opportunities in store. Offer hands-on ways for customers to learn about the products you offer—how things are made, frequently asked questions, and so on.

Upgrade Your Checkout Experience

It’s a universal truth that people hate to wait in line.

Long lines at checkout can cause customers to change their minds about buying, which, as you might imagine, can be hugely detrimental to your bottom line. Work to speed things up by:

  • Always having additional registers ready to open as needed.

  • Ensuring you have enough cashiers scheduled, especially during high-traffic times.

  • Add a few tablets as extra POS so associates can ring up sales from anywhere in the store.

  • Consider an in-app checkout system where customers can scan and pay for their merchandise through an app, then show an e-receipt to an associate as they leave the store.

Not all of these ideas will work for every retail scenario, but incorporating one or two of them can help upgrade the checkout experience for your customers.

Integrate Digital Into Your In-Store Experience

Today’s consumer is more likely to use multiple channels while they shop. Offering in-store digital experiences helps make shopping more convenient, immersive, and exciting for your customers.

Give your customers a robust omnichannel experience by combining your e-commerce and brick-and-mortar experiences into one through in-store digital elements. Customers should be able to research products online, ask questions of your expert staff, and shop across physical and digital channels seamlessly, using multiple channels and devices throughout their buying journey.

A few ways to integrate digital elements into your in-store experience are:

  • Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store (BOPIS) helps drive traffic to the physical store. And when customers come in to pick up their order, they’ll have the chance to grab extra items they didn’t think of when they placed their order online.

  • Browse online in store. Self-serve kiosks give customers the chance to browse products you may not have onsite and order those products on the spot with help from staff, rather than having to go home or visit another location to buy. This is an especially good strategy if you’re low on inventory or don’t keep all of your stock in store.

  • QR codes posted next to items that, when scanned, pull up more information about the product on your website or a video showing the product in use and highlighting its benefits.

  • Make your store “Instagrammable.” People love sharing their experience with brands on their social platforms. Consider incorporating photo opportunities into your merchandising and design to encourage customers to share your products with their followers.

Design Your Store Layout To Direct the Customer Journey

Ideally, you want to make the customer’s journey engaging from the time they step through your door to the moment they leave (hopefully with a purchase).

All of the elements used in your store design should enhance the customer experience, not detract from it. As you consider your store’s layout and design, try to incorporate some or all of the following concepts:

  • Welcome customers into the store with clear, friendly signage that offers suggestions to guide customer behavior and foot traffic.

  • Arrange displays, shelving, and dividers to direct the customer’s journey through the store.

  • Incorporate eye-catching displays along the customer’s route through the store. As you place your merchandising, think about ways to grab their attention.

  • Make products easily accessible.

  • Display products in a way that’s appealing to customers and that makes it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. For example, pair complementary products together and place product accessories close to the product.

  • Switch out displays frequently to keep the space fresh and exciting for returning customers (but not so drastically that they’re confused when they walk in).

  • Narrow the options on display to help reduce decision fatigue.

  • Include elements that appeal to the senses: sight (displays, lighting, color palettes), sound (music), scent (air freshener…but not too much), and so on.

At Miller Wittman, we understand how to create in-store customer experiences that drive traffic and sales. We’ll bring your store to life through intelligent, efficient retail design and a thorough process from site assessment to install. We’ll work closely with you to design a store that reflects how your business operates and the way your departments function and interact with one another.

Contact us to learn more about what partnering with Miller Wittman can do for you.