How to Improve In Store Customer Experiences
With brick and mortar stores back open following the global pandemic, creating a positive in-store experience has become a priority for many retailers. Almost a third of brands state that they plan on expanding their physical retail footprint over the next year.
This blog discusses what customers want from the in-store experience and how you can use technology to meet these expectations.
Why do many customers prefer in-store shopping?
Despite the increase in online shopping in recent years, due to both the rise in social media and the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of customers still prefer travelling to the store itself.
A survey conducted in 2021 found that nearly half of customers (48%) prefer ‘in person’ shopping as opposed to online shopping. 35% of these customers prefer shopping in stores simply because they “enjoy the experience”. Furthermore, a recent study in the UK stated that 56% of people want to see and feel products before purchasing.
Another study conducted in the US found that over 80% of Gen Z customers prefer to shop in stores to discover new products, while 58% stated that browsing in-store is a way to disconnect from the digital world.
What do customers want?
Over one-third of customers currently have less free time than they did five years ago, which is why, when shopping in-store, they want to be able to find what they are looking for with as little delay as possible. 83% of consumers state that convenience when shopping is more important now.
A 2022 study found that almost a quarter of customers are more likely to shop at a brick-and-mortar location that they deem as convenient than one that is not. Convenience can be more important to customers than an engaging shopping experience.
Exceptional customer service
Providing a standout customer experience will keep customers coming back for more and bring about many benefits for your business, such as increased customer retention and increased customer spending.
- 58% of customers say excellent past customer service influenced their purchasing decision.
- 27% of Americans rate their number one frustration with customer service as “lack of effectiveness.”
- When it comes to purchasing decisions, 64% of people state that the customer experience is more important than the price of the product itself.
When it comes to both the check out and the delivery processes, customers want to have the ability to choose the method which works best for them at the time.
- Almost half of customers stated that being able to self-checkout improves the overall shopping experience.
- 47% of customers want the option to check out online and return in-store.
- The majority (58%) of customers say flexible blended shipping options, such as buying a product online but picking it up in-store (BOPIS), are important to them.
How to use technology to improve the in-store experience
Ask your customers for feedback
Surveying customers following a trip in-store will allow you to gather vital insight and make any necessary changes. When it comes to surveying your customers, asking for feedback almost immediately after the interaction yields the highest response rate.
Research has shown that the #1 method of collecting customer feedback is now the kiosk survey. These digital kiosks allow you to quickly gather insight into how the experience was for your customers shopping in-store on that particular day.
You can also ask your customers for feedback by attaching a survey link to the email along with their e-receipt or via SMS when notifying customers that their order is ready to be picked up in-store.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) / Data Categorisation
Natural Language Processing involves the use of technology to analyse the sentiment behind what your customers are saying about their experiences dealing with your brand both via structured feedback (survey data) and unstructured feedback (survey comments, social media posts, and online reviews).
NLP functionality allows you to break the information into various categories, enabling you to determine which elements of your store are improving the customer experience and which are damaging it. For example, you can understand if the customer had a poor experience due to an employee’s behaviour or due to a lack of self-service options.
Creating a positive experience for your customers has never been more critical, with 67% of customers stating that their expectations for CX are higher than ever before.