François Pétavy, CEO of online creative crowdsourcing platform, eYeka, explores some creative options for retailers looking to improve the in-store customer experience, as more and more consumers choose to buy online
Thirty years ago, when the term “retail therapy” was first coined, it was unimaginable to think that it would not only refer to shopping bags but also to e-commerce, social shopping and big data CRM. Consumers, for the last few years, have really turned-up the heat on bricks-and-mortar stores with a legitimate gripe: what is the point of going to my local high street, when I can access, compare and purchase an infinite number of products from all over the world, at a cheaper price, online?
But there is still something in retail stores, supermarkets and shopping centres that consumers find hard to let go of. If you take a good look at people around you, although they can buy anything they want from their smartphone, the majority still walk to a supermarket for grocery shopping, or purposefully wander the streets, looking for a gift for their loved ones.
Retail is the third point on the axis of everyday life; the space in our routine between work and home. It provides not only a physical space for people to do something, but also a mental space for people to escape, find inspiration, and be exposed to new possibilities, experiences and cultures. Retail is a concept far beyond a simple transaction, but a potential attraction that offers distraction, learning, socialisation, entertainment or just a good time. That is why it is still on people’s agenda every day.
But what can store owners do to continue attracting consumers through the door, and to make sure that physical stores are still profitable? At eYeka, we recently produced a report that analysed 10 retail projects launched on our creative crowdsourcing platform for global FMCG companies. These 10 projects generated over 500 innovative ideas from our community of creators. What we found from them is that despite the popularity of internet shopping, an attachment to the physical shopping experience is still highly prevalent .The community also suggested ideas that could make the physical shopping experience better.
Shopping, a form of social interaction
Generation C are a group of consumers who thrive on creating content and sharing it with their community. So in line with this generation’s desire for interactivity and constant entertainment, one of the key suggestions for making the experience more inviting was to make shopping a social moment, driven by friends and content. The community suggested integrating gaming devices and interactive designs into in-store displays. With the “selfie” coming to prominence, what better way to engage the public and enhance the in-store experience by installing a photo-booth? Customers can then post these in-store photos on social media, with a location tag embedded.
Create in order to personalise
eYeka’s community also suggested retailers enable shoppers to leave their own personal mark on the store displays or products. With displays, customers could write their own story or comment on a blank space which forms part of it. In regards to products, personalisation has become a huge trend and retail can play a big role in facilitating this. In recent years, brands have given consumers many opportunities to create their own ideal products.
Through Nike ID, fans can design and personalise their trainers. Coca-Cola invited people to write names on the packaging so that they can choose and share their own. There is a huge benefit to doing this; valuable information about customers’ preferences can be collected and analysed with big data technology to create a more comprehensive and relevant CRM system, as well as more targeted advertising.
A time for personal space
Recently, Time magazine ran a cover story entitled “The Mindful Revolution” raising the issue of finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture. Retail stores and supermarkets are actually in a good position to offer people in the modern world a personal space to immerse themselves in and be mindful. Many of eYeka’s creators suggested creating “stores within stores” for individual customers to engage with a particular product. This personal space could be designed to engage all senses through music, scent and lighting so that a customer can enjoy a moment by themselves, with the product.
Escapism and a world of ‘make-believe’
As shopping acts as a form of escapism for many, the community were conscious of ways to improve the escapist element. It suggested creating a world of ‘make believe’, bringing a fantastical element that mimics TV and films. Customers buy into and are intrigued more by a world that is exaggerated and elevated than the one they live in. Luxury brands have really captured the essence of “make-believe” in their stores and window displays. They often make the best use of artistic installations or whimsical interior decoration to create an imaginative and magical atmosphere to amaze customers.
To evoke this escapism, it’s crucial to make stores as far removed as possible from the tedium of everyday life. One way to do this would be to offer surprises and personal discovery. Don’t make displays cluttered, make them visually appealing and by doing so, a mental stimulation will be added to the physical exploration, which will satisfy thirst for new experiences, inspirations and knowledge that cannot be achieved so intensely online.
Goodbye to simply being a transaction
There’s a certain something that the physical shopping experience will always have over the internet experience. Touching, interacting and examining products in the flesh simply can’t be replicated through the world wide web. However, to keep consumers engaged with physical stores, there need to be changes. The shopping experience must evolve from merely being a transactional one, to an emotive one that succeeds in getting consumers excited about in-store shopping once again.If you would like to read the full the ‘From Transaction To Attraction’ report, generated through the eYeka community suggestions, please download it here.
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(A Retail Times’ sponsored article)