1. ALIGN PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL
Make sure your physical and digital channels are aligned. Remember that customers are often doing research online before they head to your store to purchase. How can you marry the media and make the experience great? How about putting aside items your customer indicates online for them to review when they arrive? This is a great idea if they are purchasing clothing. Get the fitting room ready before they arrive. Pull what they have asked for and add on items and other options to increase the sale and up-sell. You could also consider offering a click and collect option, ie. the customer orders online and picks up in-store.
2. ENCOURAGE USE OF YOUR WEBSITE IN-STORE
This is particularly great if your stock is not in a single location. A customer in your store can browse all your offerings and order from another location for shipping or pick up.
3. MOBILE CHECK OUT
Take a page from the Apple Store and allow your staff to roam the floor and complete a purchase from anywhere using a smartphone or tablet. This frees up the cash wrap congestion and allows you to control the ebb and flow of customers.
Create interesting in-store events or activities to engage and delight your customer. In the 80's when I worked in the Junior Department at Blooomingdale's, we used to have "live mannequins", a d-jay, celebrity appearances and industry experts. Consider what and/or who would be of interest to your target markets and see how you can incorporate that into your calendar.
5. OFFER IMMERSIVE OPPORTUNITIES
Find ways to get get your customers physically involved in your product or industry. Ways to do this may include lecture or demo about horse care using a real horse and letting attendees practice. Another idea may be to host a party at a local show, event, race, or polo or at your store. Consider the value you can add to your customer in terms of this. For example, you might host a party at Devon Horse Show for the Grand Prix Open Jumper event and deconstruct the rides, discuss strategy, offer intimate time with a top rider, etc. for your group.
These services and experiences strengthen the relationship between you and your customer. Make 2017 a year to build in experience one step at a time.
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As we noted last week, the biggest thing you provide in-store that can't be provided online is experience. How do you create that? Let's start with the customer.
You are likely working with 4 key demographics. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are non-digital natives, so I will group them together. These are all customers born in 1981 and up. They grew up shopping bricks and mortar and they still view shopping as an entertainment activity. (By the way, shopping is the last FREE form of entertainment-you just have to make it entertaining.) I've been laughing about this mannequin meme on the internet. In the 1980s when I worked at Bloomingdale's we had live mannequins every weekend. Everything old is new again.
Millenials are tough. They are the first group of digital natives and they like an integrated online and in-store experience. Some of the things they like are shopping for a cause and customization. They also like to share their experience through social media. Something that may interest them are a portion of sales donated to charity. Each of you has the opportunity to provide a "custom" experience, for example, when you sell a bridle, there are parts that a customer can choose to put together a "custom" bridle. You can also consider a social sharing option that might be "take a photo with our mascot and instagram it with #whateverismeaningful" and for each post you get, you will donate a $ to a charity.
We are now on to Generation Z. These are true digital natives. The oldest are about 14 or 15. The good news is they like to physically shop. They also want a meaningfully integrated online and in-store experience. One of the best ways to get on board with Gen Z is to create a teen advisory board. This group can be invaluable in helping you shape a meaningful experience for your Gen Z end user and her Boomer or Xer or Millenial mom. Everything that happens in your store from merchandising to customer service creates the in-store experience. Attention to detail and a concerted and focused effort can help you create a space where your customer returns to and buys from frequently. Turn your customer into a fan and he or she will sell for you.
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