By Annie Konieczny
Most of us have been to a high-street clothing store during a January sale where you’ve had to navigate racks of clothing of all different sizes as music – which seemingly has no assimilation with the brand – is blasted into your ears incessantly; there’s no-one anywhere to help with anything except the student working in the fitting rooms who’s too busy anyway negotiating what looks like a whole sweatshop of unwanted try-ons, all strewn with spray tan marks; there are coffee stains on the floor, sticky clothing hangers galore and possibly someone camping in changing room five. It is these nightmarish shopping experiences which have made online outlets so attractive with their slick, visually appealing and eminently convenient user interfaces.
Whilst it’s true that bricks-and-motor businesses are competing with the sheer accessibility of online stores, recent research shows physical stores are still the primary destination for most shoppers. In the National Retail Federation (NRF’s) Winter 2017/2018 Quarter Reviewit was revealed that 21% of shoppers surveyed identified themselves as primarily online shoppers, meaning they bought more than half their purchases online. The remaining 79% said they bought half or less of the items they needed online. When PwC Global first surveyed consumers for their Global Consumer Insights Survey in 2010, they found people were making weekly purchases in physical stores at a rate of just 30% – by 2018, this rate had risen to 44%. Conversely, the survey showed online purchases dropped from 7% over the same period.
According to Retail Dive,the top reason for customers to visit a store is to see, touch, feel and try on items and, whilst these shoppers may make a purchase online later, that buying decision’s birth was in store. The International Council of Shopping Centers(ICSC), an organisation serving the global retail real estate industry, revealed in a similar study that opening a bricks-and-mortar store leads to a 37% average increase in overall traffic to a retailer’s website and grows its share of web traffic within that market by an average of 27%.
The data shows that in order to drive sales, getting customers through a physical door and into a venue space is paramount which also means that creating a unique and appealing experience has never been more important. Here at Qsic, we’ve been creating bespoke in-store experiences for our clients and their customers for the best part of a decade and the nifty methods these innovative businesses employ to make the atmosphere of their spaces truly otherworldly are our bread and butter. Here are a few we love:
One word: McDonald’s. The burger giant has trailblazed the use of tablets in restaurants which you can now see popping up in venues across the world. The British subsidiary of the global fast-food chain joined forces with enterprise mobility management platform, SOTI, to equip McDonald’s restaurants with Samsung Galaxy tablet devices. Customers can now check their email, scroll through Instagram as well as order and pay for food right from their tables. McDonald’s have created an experience as convenient as an eCommerce one, but in a bricks-and-mortar environment.
Tom’s flagship in Venice Beach includes a coffee shop and juice bar, and Waitrose, a UK-based supermarket, offers free coffees to customers with every purchase. Many bookshops have started incorporating cafes into their spaces where customers can read their new purchases or indeed try before they buy. Other venues have given away bunches of flowers for a few hours on Valentine’s Day, held yoga workshops or have given out burgers, all to amplify shopping experiences.
Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street in London does ‘retailtainment’ so well. Personal shopping is available free of charge and the store also includes a number of hair and beauty services ranging from brow threading to piercing. The space also includes food and drink pop-ups such as Bubbleology and Lola’s cupcakes as well as state-of-the-art VR games and even a ‘Splash’ experience where the shop’s windows were turned into an interactive pool scene where customer could ride a virtual water slide.
Click-and-collect is a service that lets shoppers buy online and pick-up in store. It has taken the world by storm with shoppers and retail owners alike going crazy for it. It’s super convenient for customers and drives traffic through the door – a huge plus for retailers. Research shows that a third of US shoppers chose click and collect over the Christmas 2018 period meaning customers who may have otherwise made purchases online were instead walking through doors and into physical stores. According to the ICSC, 69% of shoppers who went in-store to pick up their orders ended up buying additional items.
- Walk Out Shopping
Last but certainly not least, we have Amazon Go, an initiative which is quite literally set to change the way we shop in bricks-and-mortar stores forever. In an Amazon Go convenience store, customers walk in, take the things they want and walk out, all while Amazon Go’s technology analyses everything the customer has taken using a combination of cameras, AI, machine learning and other advanced technologies in order to charge their credit cards correctly; a receipt is then sent to the customer in case he or she wants to double check any purchases. Even changes of mind are accounted for by the technology in store, such as picking something up, deciding against it, and putting it back down – customers will not be charged. All new Amazon Go shoppers need do is download the Amazing Go app and let the magic unfold. The experience takes convenience to a whole new level and feels like walking into the future.