As a brick-and-mortar store, you can’t always compete with the convenience and selection of online stores. To drive sales, you need to give people a compelling reason to walk through your doors.
In-store experiences are now where it’s at, with many of the nation’s largest retailers transforming their stores into more than just a store. Here are some examples of this trend — and ways businesses on a leaner budget can follow suit:
The five-star hotel treatment
Some Nordstroms have “concierges,” employees who can give shoppers local restaurant and sight-seeing recommendations. Customers can also have one-on-one consultations with personal stylists, get their hair done, and have purchases delivered to their hotel.
Think of ways your business can do more with your expertise. If you’re a boutique, consider creating a personal stylist experience similar to Nordstrom’s. Allow clients to book appointments and have a spread of merchandise ready for them when they come in. If you’re an athletic-shoe store, provide personalized consultations where you recommend running events you think will suit each customer.
Any way you can leverage your expertise in a unique way is a selling point for coming into your store versus shopping online.
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Retailtainment — that is, providing consumers with some sort of entertainment as part of the shopping experience — has been around for decades. But major retailers are now taking it to the next level.
A shopping center in Minnesota, for example, is building a 50,000-square-foot indoor water park. Walmart hosts the Professional Bull Riders at stores across the country. And National Geographic is creating “interactive exploration centers” worldwide (the first one is slated to open in Shenyang, China this year).
While these types of blowout experiences are no doubt expensive, they drive serious foot traffic. And when coupled with in-store product demos, they skyrocket sales. Walmart Research says in-store sampling quadruples product purchases.
While it’s unlikely you’re going to build waterslides or wrangle bull riders, you can still experiment with retailtainment at your business. Try playing host to workshops, guest speakers, or local bands. Make sure to integrate product demos (ideally with discounts) as part of the event.
Reimagine your space
Shopping and lifestyle continue to merge. Toward that end, businesses are now rethinking how to utilize their storefronts.
Staples, for example, announced last year that it would be partnering with office-sharing startup Workbar to convert a portion of its brick-and-mortar locations into work spaces. Reebok integrates CrossFit gyms at its stores. Tom’s flagship in Venice Beach includes a coffee shop and juice bar.
Think about what else you could do with your store. This doesn’t have to be a 24/7 dedicated space. Perhaps it’s hosting a coffee stand outside during peak caffeinating hours. Or a flower shop pop-up around holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Any way you can give customers an additional reason to hang out at your business drives sales.
It may seem counterintuitive, but it can be effective to not actually sell items in person. An emerging retail trend is the “unstore,” storefronts that exist solely to demo products.
Samsung’s Manhattan flagship, for example, doesn’t even sell the company’s devices. If shoppers want to purchase something, they have to go online. E-commerce-focused brands like Bonobos and Warby Parker are doing something similar, saving on the costs of onsite stockrooms by only carrying samples at some retail locations.
If going all-in on a display-only storefront isn’t for you, try it out at events or pop-ups that you participate in, or just with certain larger pieces of merchandise. It spares you the hassle of having to lug around your products and paying for inventory storage space.