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How to improve the in-store experience

An enjoyable in-store retail experience means more passing trade, more sales and more brand loyalty. Find out how to improve the shopping experience.

February  2024

ScreenCloud Post

When customers walk into your store, you can be sure your business has done something right – advertising, storefront signage, or even window display. Now, it’s time for your in-store experience to take over and reward customers. 

And because more than 50% of shoppers already prefer online shopping to stepping into a retail store (Digivate), your business has its job cut out for it. One solution is to improve the in-store experience and make customers enjoy their time so much that they want to come back. That's what this guide is about.

From discussing what you stand to gain from optimizing your customers' shopping experience to suggesting strategies that work, we cover it all. Let's dive in.

Why is customer experience so important in the retail industry?

Improving the retail customer experience helps your business do more than just complete a sale. It’s a chance to help interact with your brand in ways that are impossible online. Whether you like it or not, customers in your store will

  • Get a sense of your brand 
  • See how/if you’re different from competitors
  • Decide if they’ll come back.

Improving the in-store experience ensures that you can maximize these touchpoints and help the customer see why you’re the perfect fit for their needs. If done currently, your retail experience can

  • Build customer loyalty
  • Boost your brand image and reputation
  • Educate customers about your offers
  • Increase sales by getting customers to buy other things they didn’t know they needed
  • Earn you word of mouth advertising because of their positive experience
  • Increase customer retention and repeat business
  • Provide cross-selling opportunities

As you can see, it’s much more important than making one sale.

Five strategies to improve customer experience in-store

The next logical questions are: what makes a great in-store experience, and what can my business do to improve it?

Well, that’s what this section addresses. Let’s look at some of the best strategies to improve the customer experience in your retail business.

Inviting store layout

The physical environment of your store will shape customers' experience throughout their stay, so it’s a great place to start. You'll want a layout that is easy to navigate, visually appealing, and reflects your brand identity. Next, consider lighting, color schemes, and store fixtures not just to create a welcoming atmosphere but also help customers find their way around effortlessly.

Trained staff

Few things are more frustrating than talking to a retail employee who has no idea where you can find the products you need. Giving employees training to do their jobs is important, but you also want to keep them motivated and engaged.

This may include empowering staff to make decisions that benefit the customer, along with providing the training necessary to do the job.

Exclusive in-store offers

Offering in-store customers something extra than what they'll find online is a great way to improve their experience. In-store events, product launches and exclusive promotions are all excellent strategies that have worked in the past.

You may also want to generate online buzz, drawing in even more foot traffic.

Optimize customer journey

This may require your team to put yourselves in the customers’ shoes. How many aisles do they have to navigate through before finding the average product? Does your checkout line keep the customer waiting? Will they pass the discount aisle or experience any in-store signage on their path? 

Improving the customer journey may also include looking at how the layout affects foot traffic, and making high-demand items visible through the window.

Implement a customer loyalty program

Customer loyalty programs are great for everything from increasing loyalty to generating word-of-mouth advertising. But they can be quite helpful at improving the retail customer experience too.

For example, your business could incentivize repeat purchases by rewarding customers who love coming to your store. You can do this by using customer data to understand their purchase patterns and make informed recommendations.

You could also personalize offers based on your customer’s purchase history so that every time they walk into the store, it’s like everything was put together for them.

Some other ideas include:

  • Special access to events or sales
  • Easy checkouts and payments

How to improve the in-store experience using digital signage

If your store doesn’t have digital signage, the last five tips can help optimize the customer experience. But if you have digital signage strategically placed around the store, these tips can help take things to the next level.

1. Real-time marketing campaigns

Something that TV shows do really well is highjack real-time moments in the lead-up to a new release. If you were a fan of the Netflix show Stranger Things, you may have seen the phrase “Justice for Barb”. While this phrase made its way onto t-shirts, badges, and other paraphernalia, one clever Starbucks barista penned a note to Barb actress Shannon Purser that said, “Barb deserved better,” which quickly clocked up more than 28,000 retweets.

Barb deserved better | in store experience marketing example

Now, you may not be lucky enough to have Hollywood actresses visiting your café or store, but you can use your digital signage screens to jump on any relevant trends to surprise and delight customers.

This could include everything from the latest TV shows to upcoming holidays that people enjoy. Using current trends is a great way to think outside the norm of what your screens display and get customers tweeting, taking photos and wanting to share the moment further.

2. Loyal customers’ Wall of Fame

Businesses often use reward and recognition programs to help recognize staff members, but there’s  no reason why you can’t celebrate your top customers in the same way. You can use your digital screens to create recognition boards and help loyal customers feel recognized.

This doesn’t have to be sales-related either. Celebrating customers for work they are doing in the community, sharing photos of your cutest doggie customers, or even doing a birthday shout-out are all great ways to recognize your customers on an in-store wall of fame.

3. Show off products in action

You know what would make your customers more likely to buy? Ideas on how to use your products when they are out of the store. Use your screens to showcase how your latest camera has been used by war correspondents to capture moments of human emotion. Display fashion bloggers wearing the latest products in your seasonal collection aisle. 

This content is interesting and, more importantly, adds value to the customers. It makes them recognize what an investment the product actually is,  and who doesn’t love an investment?

4. Unique opportunities

A study shows 6 out of 10 customers love interacting with products before committing (Retaildive), which means they'll come to your store. Use this knowledge to boost the in-store experience by tweaking your digital signage so it helps customers to find the unique products they want. 

Some ideas on how to make this work include:

  • Create a countdown in minutes until your coveted products launch 
  • Show how many items you have left in stock and in what sizes or colors
  • Display complementary product pairings that go together

5. A connection point

Brands with Omnichannel engagement see an annual revenue increase of 9.5%, according to Digizuite. Considering that in-store experience is only one channel, you can use your digital screens to provide even more interaction. 

Use the screens within your store as the anchor through which to connect all of your online and offline touchpoints. This could include social media display boards, up-to-the-minute sales stats and customer testimonials. This will put the wider vibe and message of your brand front and center and let your customers know that you’re so much more than what they see in front of them.

6. Customer support

According to Accenture, 73% of consumers will choose a human over digital capability when seeking advice or looking to resolve a service issue or complaint. Instead of using your screens to tell your customers how you have a 95% customer satisfaction rate, why not help them to be more satisfied?

Your physical stores may have excellent customer service, but if customers can't find anyone, they'll walk away with a poor experience. If your customer service desk on the first floor is closed that day, make it known. Use your digital signage to help visitors move past any annoyances and get to checkout faster. Your screens could help:

  • Show the next available service desk
  • Display customers' positions in queue
  • Display helpful product tips while customers stand in line

This simple strategy can help turn unhappy customers into loyal fans

7. Easter eggs

“Easter eggs” are something video gaming developers build into their games. They’re a little secret, joke or a special feature that has to be searched for, and are designed to reward the game’s most loyal players.

Digital screens are a great way to provide Easter Eggs for your customers to find. This adds a little fun into the day, sparks conversation, and increases dwell time and participation, a win-win for everyone.

Where’s Wally image source via Telegraph, original source PA

This could be a popular puzzle, a “question of the day” quiz, a riddle or something to test if your customers are engaged with your digital signage. 

8. Humor

Example of using humor to improve in-store experience

Humor will always be able to capture people’s attention, whether it’s a funny tweet, a hilarious prank on Instagram, or something comical that happens in person. That's why it’s a low-hanging fruit that you should explore while trying to improve your in-store experience.

If you can capture humor, without it feeling forced, that’s the magic formula for surprising and delighting customers while they spend time in your physical store. You can use this fact about customer behavior to your advantage by sharing a quick pun or funny message. You want to focus on the content that will likely get photographed and shared time and time again.

9. Meet the staff

Meet the staff example of in store digital signage experience

Your team members are likely to be the heart and soul of your company. Helping your customers get to know the people behind the name badges is a great way to build customer relationships.

An easy way to do this is to use Meet the Team app. By adding all of your staff to a simple spreadsheet, you can create a running order of your different team members and let them add other fun facts, like a quote or their pet’s name.  

Introducing your team members will help customers feel like a part of the club, and help employees feel valued and appreciated. It’s a win win.

10. Pre-empt FAQs

If you’re stuck for ideas on how to impress customers, chances are you already have some of the answers right in front of you. They’re in the questions your customers ask. Spend a week where you note down every question your customer asks you, like “Where do you keep the sweaters?” or “Are dogs allowed in here?”.

Once you have your list of questions, you can create digital notices to help answer them. This solves customer questions and could make future customers feel as though you’ve read their minds, which is always a cool feeling. 

Once you have a backlog of notices, you can get them to pop up on your screens during busy times to help solve customer queries before they’ve even asked them.

How do you measure customer experience in store?

Say you’ve implemented all of this advice – maximized your digital signage messaging and ensured that nearly everything contributes to the customer experience. But how do you know it’s worked?

Measuring the customer experience can be tricky because you can’t just use how many sales are completed – walk-in customers could have planned to buy with or without your strategies. Plus, unlike an online store where you can measure clicks and pages visited, a retail store is much different.

We suggest using the following metrics to see how your changes affect the customer experience. Consider measuring before and after you adopt our recommendations for an objective perspective.

1. Customer surveys

The best way to find out what people think is to ask them. You could set up kiosks in your store to gather real-time customer feedback or online surveys that prompt customers to respond after their visit. It’s a good idea to keep the questions short and to the point to minimize drop-off.

2. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The NPS is a metric used to determine how likely a customer is to recommend your business. You could use a question like “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our store to a friend or colleague?” 

Compare average scores over time to get a picture of what works and what doesn't.

3. Mystery shoppers

You can also employ mystery shoppers to come into your store and objectively rate the customer experience. This way, you can have someone who willingly takes in your store’s experience and reports their satisfaction level. 

4. Customer feedback box

An anonymous suggestion box is a great way to get honest feedback from customers. You’ll want to place them in a high visibility area, alongside a pen and some paper so people have what they need.

The trick with this is to mindfully separate the real concerns from “noise.” This means differentiating customers who complain about systems that are perfectly fine for those who help identify opportunities for improving the in-store experience.

5. Social media monitoring

Social media monitoring can require an investment to do right, but it has massive payoffs. Paying attention to what people say about your brand on social media will help identify what their experience is like.

From comments and reviews to direct messages, you can tell how many people had a positive customer experience and how many had such a bad time they had to tweet about it.

6. Dwell time and foot traffic

These can be quite tricky because foot traffic is usually determined by other factors, like your storefront signage or store location. Dwell time could throw you off a bit. A high dwell time could mean a poor customer shopping experience because nobody can find what they are looking for. It could also mean your customers are so engaged that they tend to spend more time.

We recommend combining these metrics with others so as to get the full picture.

Improve your in-store experience with ScreenCloud

ScreenCloud can help take your customer's shopping experience to another level through digital signage, whether it's sharing useful information or displaying content to keep them engaged.

You can book a demo right now to explore all the solutions our platform can bring to your business or just to see why we are trusted by 10,000+ companies globally.

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