Savvy consumers want retail experience

Personalisation, Entertainment, Education and Enlightenment. What do consumers want? And how can physical stores deliver this in more meaningful ways?


There is no doubt that online shopping has changed the face of retail forever. But, customers want retail experience, they crave personalisation, education, entertainment and enlightenment.

At its core, online shopping offers a 24-hour service with competitive and comparative pricing – something our stores cannot always deliver on.

However, there is often an overlooked saving grace for retailers, and it lies within their very own showroom floor. Thanks to online sales and data-driven marketing, we know more than ever about our customers.

But it’s actually the subtleties of being a bricks and mortar retailer, that gives us the amazing insight into what your customers actually want.

So what do consumers want? And, how can our physical stores deliver on this in more meaningful ways? While the focus of retail has shifted, I’m a true believer that human connection is what makes the in-store retail experience so unique and special.

It is the experience of that human connection within the four walls of your retail environment and how it makes your customers feel. This ‘feel’ is what cannot be easily compared or price matched anywhere else.

It’s not just about the products anymore; it’s about the total experience. Your customers want retail experience, they crave personalisation, education, entertainment and enlightenment. Retailers that are doing this are the ones who are experiencing success and making the headlines for all the right reasons.

While it’s easy to blame globalisation, Amazon and others, the fix to our retail woe’s are lurking right inside your own store.

Today many retailers, including ones that I’ve been part of, are still following old-fashioned push marketing routes. And...for the most part, offering a boring in-store atmosphere.

This sterile and often non- personable interaction can easily be matched online. So, when customers are underwhelmed by their in-store visit, they are also less likely to feel inspired to visit again.

Which in turn, leads to further commoditisation of the market, leading to price only decision making. In addition, let’s face it, your massive advertising budget to bring new customers in-store can prevent even the most clever retailers from being innovative in-store anyway.

What’s going to move things forward for retailers?

It’s now critical to think about the in-store experience you offer and ensure that people are being enhanced, being surprised, and feeling delighted as they come through your physical door.

It’s about creating unique experiences that capture your own brand promise while purposely helping your customers to reach their own aspirations. It’s about building a journey that takes both of you where you want to be.

Mindset shift from extracting revenue to delivering more value in-store

In my experience both through running my own 2,500m2 store, as well as working with many other retailers to bring in-store experience to life in their stores, it’s our own retail and sales mindset that mostly holds us back from great things. In my book, The Retail Experiment I’ve appropriately named this conundrum, The Sales Machine mindset.

As retailers, it’s our job not only historically, but in our day to day operations, to constantly focus on the sales metrics of our business. But, when we focus so much of our resources on extracting sales it puts us at odds with our special people – customers.

Instead, if you shift your retail mindset from extracting sales to deliver more value in-store, you’ll see a dramatic change in your customer’s attitudes which suddenly opens them up to a genuine relationship. If you skip this valuable step, your customers will not be listening to your messaging.

Unique Customer Behaviours

The first step to offering this customer-driven experience is to understand your own unique customer behaviours and interests. Because retailers are so varied, this will greatly differ from retailer to retailer.

However, you’ll find them all in a similar way, though market research and in-store customer exit surveys, through interactions with customers and comments from staff.

Once you understand your own customer interests, lifestyles and behaviours, tailor your in-store experience to fit what you’ve uncovered. It is not just about playing to the positive either. Understanding negative sentiments and offering something to counteract it can endear a customer to you even more.

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In-store Experience

For example, an appliance store we worked with, found its customers displayed nervousness around purchasing high-end blenders and smaller kitchen appliances in-store, however this was a profitable line and they wanted to increase sales in this category.

They also wanted to connect better with customers in this market and provide reassurance and value to their shopping experience. So we created a range of in-store events for busy, health-conscious females over 6 months.

Delivering specialised monthly events like; cooking with allergies, paleo and autoimmune workshops and understanding and celebrating being gluten-free. All of these were heavily influenced by the use of small kitchen gadgets and appliances. Not only did the retailer experience a 47% increase in sales for that category over the 6-month campaign, but follow up survey’s found that attendee’s for the events were 4 x more likely to advocate and share upcoming events, sales and marketing from this retailer.

Using In-store Events & Experiences

As you can see, in-store events cannot only educate and demonstrate techniques, but they also supplying attendees with ton’s of inspiration from real-life experts and in their field. While there were no specific products mentioned or being ‘sold’, customers are “surprised and delighted” by the retailer’s generous gesture but also in enriching their lives.

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Attendee’s reciprocated their appreciation by sharing on social and inviting other friends for upcoming events and by purchasing what they needed to get started on their new lifestyle journey.

Most big retailers have this type of market research at their fingertips already. However, it can be even easier for smaller, more boutique- type retailers who really know their customers and the niche they represent.

People are more open today than just ten years ago to forming closer bonds with a brand. This is one of the reasons why inspirational and educational events are so powerful for retailers.

There’s never been a better time, or better market conditions to start driving this new trend within retail. Helping your customers solve meaningful problems, connecting with their emotional versus logic only side (features and benefits), can be a powerful engagement tool for retailers today.

The in-store experience you create can help your customers feel at ease in your store, better understand your products and can also connect their lifestyle goals with your brand.

So, get cracking at creating these events in-store and connecting and communicating with your customers on a much more meaningful level – if you get stuck, reach out, I’d love to help answer a few questions to get you started.