Your store is the physical home of your brand, the gathering point of your fans, and the space where you deliver on the promises that you make with advertising and marketing. It’s the manifestation of your brand personality that customers can touch and feel.
Your customer already knows you through their online experience. They have been buying your merchandise and having it delivered in the convenience of their home. When they make the effort to visit your store, you have another opportunity to impress upon them how you know them and relate to their lives.
Relate to them on a personal level. Consumers no longer settle for a one size fits all experience. It’s important that stores meet these expectations and no longer provide the one size fits all ‘selling environment’ they used to be. Your customers are savvy to your ways. In order to keep their interest and build the lasting, emotional relationship that you desire, you’ve got to stand out from the pack. Serve up value-added opportunities that are customizable and unique to their needs and wants – and go above and beyond transaction.
They may want to hang out with other like minded fans, celebrating their love of your products, together. Take the cycle apparel brand, Rapha, for example: The brand’s stores offer great coffee, pastries and product mix; customers can meet to watch the Tour de France, begin and end club rides, or test and purchase gear.
Your customer wants to be wooed (in their own way). She wants to see curated collections of products and understand how they fit into their lives seamlessly.
Maybe you want to use your store to launch new products and create experiences around these, where fans can learn and play, without the need to purchase in-store. Your store can be a safe place to ask questions, get advice, try on and get excited about products that they’ll ultimately buy online or in-store.
Your customer wants to be wooed (in their own way). She wants to see curated collections of products and understand how they fit into their lives seamlessly. They want clear information, delivered at a pace that suits their journey – graphics should be about communication, not signage; moments of inspiration not wall-paper! Digital is so much more than having screens in-store. Give them some theater, something to tell their friends about, something that prompts a selfie or a Snap; teach them and help them believe; give them impeccable levels of service without it feeling like your store team has just finished a PR course. If they know what they want to achieve with you, give them the tools and ability to do that quickly – easy navigation, specific zoning, clear tone of voice that helps them get in and out; they may want to come back later at a slower pace and take time to explore.
Finally, think about your brand in all of its facets. Does all of the above belong in one space? Is a place of learning and exploration the same as one of urgency and convenience? Would some of your categories perform better dialed up in a store of their own, close to the demographic that desires it most? Would your store best suit an experience hub, surrounded by timely pop-ups and fulfillment centers? Should your store be a showroom to immerse your customer in merchandise to inspire a purchase like IKEA’s model?
Put your customer first. If they had a choice, how, where, and when would they want to interact with your brand? It may be that all of the above fits their needs and that we’re not simply describing a single retail experience, but an eco-system.