Yep. Online shopping is fast and convenient. In many instances, it’s pretty much friction-free.

But it’s also very impersonal.

This is where brick and mortar stores can outshine e-commerce.

According to The Retail Doctor, physical retail can make people feel like they matter. And guess what happens when people feel important and appreciated?

They. Spend. More.

If you want to offer an in-store shopping experience that’s more fun, more engaging, and just plain better than shopping online, read on for 5 ways to make it happen:

1. Use Humor to Connect With Customers

The best salespeople understand that selling in today’s world requires a different approach. It’s all about establishing trust, providing value and building meaningful relationships.

One way to achieve this is by using humor, which can make a big difference in winning or losing a sale. Humor helps you nurture and build relationships by easing tension, connecting with customers, and infusing your store with a sense of joy and laughter (just make sure the humor is in good taste and that the laughter doesn’t come at the expense of others).

'If you can make a prospect laugh, you can make them buy anything.'Click To Tweet

Studies show that humor mentally disarms people, making you more persuasive. It encourages customers to lower their guard and makes them more comfortable so they can be fully engaged in the moment.

2. Engage Customers With Interaction

Due to the prevalence of online shopping options, retail stores must find more creative ways to attract customers. What does that mean for you? You must find a way to make your store more than just a place to buy something.

“Retailers’ success today is not so much what they sell, but how they sell it. Shopper engagement is the buzzword, and creating opportunities for shopper interaction is how to do it. The challenge for retailers is how to make their stores more interactive for the customer, which will increase the time they spend in the store. This is what experience retail is all about.”

Source: Second to None

“Brick and mortar can capture a shopper’s imagination with unexpected items and/or attractions,” says The Retail Doctor. For example, you could present your merchandise as an interactive experience for the shopper. If you’re trying to sell swimwear and towels, you might add an ‘ocean breeze’ scent that will invoke a sense of summer and the beach, along with playing Beach Boys music and letting customers take photos against an ocean backdrop.

Remember…your goal is to drive engagement by inspiring the imagination of your customers. This, in turn, will entice customers to shop longer.

3. Create a Sense of Belonging & Familiarity

Remember the popular sitcom, Cheers? It was about a cozy bar where regulars shared their life stories with each other while drinking or working at the place where “everybody knew their name.”

You can create the same sense of familiarity at your retail store. “A relaxed and inviting store that is more of a living space than a retail space is the new norm,” says “The Retail Doctor. Providing a lounge in the middle of the store where shoppers can read or watch TV or a coffee bar in the corner where customers can enjoy a warm beverage will give your store a more relaxed vibe.

“Product assortment, prices and other tangibles offer few differences among retailers. The real uniqueness stems from the softer side of the operation and the intangibles.”

Source: Retail Wire

To create a sense of familiarity at your store, make your customers feel comfortable, like they’re visiting the home of a friend, and they’ll have a good reason to hang out at your establishment more often.

4. Fall in Love With Your Store & Customers Will, Too

Are you and your employees in love with your retail store? If you’re not, you need to be.

When you take pride in your work, providing tangible value to clients will come naturally. Make sure you and your employees have the tools, training, and freedom to bring the best of yourselves—from playful and curious to helpful and empathic—to work each day.

Your customers won’t fall in love with your store unless you’re in love with it. And that won’t happen if you view your work as an obligation.

Exhibiting pride in your retail store, as well as the products and services you offer, will generate the kind of excitement that makes customers want to experience the same fulfillment you get from your work.

5. Be the “Awesome” Your Customers Can’t Stop Talking About

Competition from online stores isn’t going away. But you can still get the upper hand by delivering not just good customer service, but legendary customer experiences.  As Help Scout says, “When you can’t out-spend the competition, the solution is to out-support them.”

Help Scout goes on to say:

“When customer service is given the credence it deserves, only then do companies get to see what “word of mouth” is all about.”

As you know, raving fans love to go online and share the experiences they have with the companies they buy from. And they do it on their own—without being incentivized to share their discovery with their favorite social channels.

When you deliver legendary service, you not only stand out from the competition—online or off—but you pave the way for building solid customer relationships and improving overall satisfaction, which naturally leads to loyalty and repeat business.

“If you want to build a loyal customer base, reduce customer effort. “Make life easier for your customers, and they’ll have a great reason to stick around.”

Source: Groove

You’ll know when you become the “awesome” your customers can’t stop talking about because they’ll do more than come back. They’ll even do more than recommend you to others, In fact, they’ll insist that their friends shop with you, too. And that’s what makes a healthy, happy and sustainable retail business, no matter what’s happening in e-commerce.

Conclusion

Competing with Amazon and a host of other online retailers isn’t easy. But as The Retail Doctor says, “The reality is it is no different than competing against other brick and mortar retailers.”

The key is to create legendary shopping experiences by using humor to connect with customers, engaging shoppers through discovery and interaction, creating a sense of belonging, loving your store so much customers can’t help but love it, too, and being so awesome you’re customers can’t stop talking about you.

Without these elements, points out The Retail Doctor, you’re pretty much like 90% of your competition.

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About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and the eBook The Small retailer's Ultimate Guide to Increasing In-Store Sales. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.

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