Despite the acceleration of ecommerce, physical stores continue to be an essential channel for retailers in 2023. Today, 85% of all retail sales occur in a physical store, with 54% of shoppers preferring to shop offline.
But as retailers adapt to ever-changing consumer behaviors and new technologies, creating in-store experiences that drive engagement and loyalty is critical. Here are five tips for creating a next-level store experience in 2023.
1. Reimagine Store Design and Layout
In a digital-first world, shoppers have countless options for purchasing products. As a result, consumers are turning to physical retail for a more personalized shopping experience.
Store design should emphasize convenience and allows customers to learn more about the products. Here are a few tips when thinking about store design in 2023.
Bring your online store to life
Today, it’s common for customers to know a brand online first. Physical stores are an opportunity to showcase the brand story and values, driving customer loyalty.
- Glossier: Beauty brand Glossier brings its brand to life with oversized letters, modern furniture and its soft baby pink color. The layout matches the minimalist feel of Glossier’s website, with products neatly displayed.
- M.M.LaFleur: Women's work apparel brand M.M.LaFleur has three locations. The brand’s stores reflect a cozy yet professional feel.
- Birdies: In its flagship locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco, shoe brand Birdies creates a comfortable lounge to try on shoes. Shoes decorate the walls, while stunning and cozy seating fills the space. The brand also uses its signature color—Birdies Blush—throughout the store.
Maximize space, not SKUs
Retailers are no longer stocking their salesfloors full of merchandise. Instead, brands are implementing layouts that encourage shoppers to spend more time in the store and engage with products.
Foxtrot—the “convenience store of the future”— has open air-dining areas in all 23 store locations. In 2021 Bloomingdale’s opened Bloomie’s, a smaller format store that focuses more on services than products. The store has a coffee and cocktail bar, rotating product carts and styling and alteration services. The company opened a second store in Chicago in 2022 and will open a third in Seattle later this year.
2. Invest in Product Displays and Merchandising that Drive Education
According to Google, 74% of consumers research products online before purchasing in-store. As a result, customers likely know your products before walking in. With meaningful displays and merchandising, physical stores drive education, product interaction and conversion.
- Ferguson Bath, Kitchen, & Lighting Gallery allows customers to take a 3D virtual tour to see what their completed renovation will look like before they buy items.
- Dick’s Sport Goods opened its first House of Sport in 2021. Shoppers can test products on a turf field, indoor track, climbing wall and putting green.
- Rael—a menstrual and beauty brand—asks its wholesale partners to merchandise products together rather than by category. “Our dream is to have an end cap with beauty and feminine care together,” Yanghee Paik, CEO and Co-founder, told Inc.com earlier this month. “I’m hopeful that in the near future, we can make these changes [to] really position ourselves as a holistic cycle care brand to consumers.”
3. Streamline Store Operations
The pandemic accelerated the rise of the omnichannel shopper. Today, stores are mini-fulfillment centers, increasing the workload for retail staff. At the same time, retailers are still grappling with staff shortages.
Simplifying store processes with technology is essential. Retailers can no longer rely on paper-based processes. By leveraging digital tools, retailers can speed up routine tasks and ensure all communications are in one place. As a result, staff will have more time to focus on customer service.
4. Enhance Customer Service
Consumers often view retail associates as experts who can help them find the right product for their needs. In a study by The Lion’esque Group, 31% of respondents indicated that the greatest “value-add” is when store associates can access product information in real-time. By empowering retail associates with data and product knowledge, they can deliver a more personalized level of service.
At the same time, retailers can leverage digital tools to enable customers to design their own shopping experiences. By implementing programs—such as buy online, pick-up in store, curbside pick-up, appointment shopping and text concierge services—brands can meet consumer demands for convenience and speed.
- Shoppers in Nike’s new Nike Live stores can text with store associates while shopping.
- In the fall of 2022, H&M opened a small-format store in Brooklyn. The fitting rooms have RFID-enabled dressing room mirrors. Shoppers can scan their items, and the mirror will provide suggestions based on their selections.
- Last year, Dollar General announced it would trial self-checkout-only payment options at 200 stores.
5. Lean Into Experiences that Complement Your Brand
Today, 59% of consumers expect retailers to dedicate more space to experiences. And 81% say they’re willing to pay more for brands that offer memorable experiences. But creating experiences that align with your brand and showcase value proposition is crucial.
- Lalo, a baby brand, uses its NY showroom to engage with parents and caregivers. The store—known as Lalo Land—lets customers build their registry and book appointments with product experts. The “Play Cafe” offers kid-friendly crafts. And parents and caregivers can sign-up for classes designed for babies and toddlers.
- Athleisure brand Alo Yoga has four stores with space dedicated to yoga classes and community events.
- Haircare brand Madison Reed uses its Color Bars to drive customer engagement and education. Customers can book a hair-coloring appointment at a Color Bar. After working with a stylist, customers can return to the salon or replicate the results at home.
Create the In-Store Experience of the Future with Salesfloor
Salesfloor is an all-in-one customer management platform. With Salesfloor, retailers across industries are reimagining the customer experience online and offline.
Our appointment management tools make it easy for customers to book in-store or virtual appointments with their favorite stylists. Our clienteling tools equip store staff with data and customer management resources to drive a more personalized experience. And our virtual shopping tools enable retailers to extend the in-store shopping experience online.
Request a demo today to see how thousands of retailers use the Salesfloor platform to enhance the in-store customer experience.