E-commerce sales have been growing rapidly over the past decade and some high-street retailers have struggled to compete. The growth of online shopping doesn’t have to spell the end for physical retailers, but they must adapt if they want to stay afloat. So, how can they achieve this? In this article, book printing specialists Where The Trade Buys discuss how retailers have adopted a more personalised approach to customer service.
Incorporating online elements
High-street retailers have been incorporating elements of the online experience into their stores. Before the age of department stores and supermarkets, stores were small and independent, which made for strong rapports with customers. However, the emergence of large, modern stores made shopping a far less sociable activity. Retail optimization supplier Maplewave have been providing electronic signature software to make the shopping experience more streamlined. When online furniture and homeware retailer Made.com decided to take a leap of faith and open a physical store, they kept this concept at the heart of their plans. The recently relaunched Soho London showroom captured the best of both worlds, from QR codes to assist in locating products to staff lead workshops for customers to attend. By doing so, they struck the perfect balance between the offline and online world.
A bespoke experience
The iconic jeweler Tiffany and Co. brought a breath of fresh air to the opening of their Covent Garden store, creating a ‘Style Studio’ where they sell more than just their luxury jewels. Homeware and accessories have been added to the range, to give the brand a better positioning in the everyday life of their customers, found within the exquisite on brand studio, finished in the company’s classic duck egg blue. Further features such as a personalisation station called #MakeItTiffany where customers can get jewellery items engraved. The aesthetic of the store also targets the Instagram generation of younger shoppers, and the store is an experience within itself.
Travel retailers have faced huge losses over the past few years as people turn away from high-street travel agents. With companies such as Airbnb and a plethora of agents taking their businesses online, physical travel agents have had to think of innovative ways to retain the holiday booking experience as an offline task. Virgin Holidays have taken this on board and created a string of concept stores to revitalise the booking experience. The stores include mocked up airplane cabins and virtual reality technologies to take customers on a simulated tour of a destination. By playing on sensory features, Virgin are capitalising on the ‘real’ elements which are far harder for digital to replicate. They have essentially gone back to basics, providing a friendly, visual experience in order to help trigger conversions. This exemplifies the fact that certain personalisation methods in retail are exclusive to the offline space, and 22% of younger and older families still book their holiday in store which proves the value.
Providing personalised incentives
Companies such as Joules have analysed shopping trend data to find out when customers are most likely to be receptive to discounts and offers. By providing the relevant discounts, customers are more likely to feel drawn towards a purchase as the offer is based on their previous buying habits with the brand. Urban Outfitters use their reward scheme to dish out points to shoppers, even just by paying a visit to the store. Incentives like these can provide the fuel for a conversion, as well as a trip to the shops. Many stores offer memberships or points cards, which offer regular treats or an annual vouchers provide the motivation for a purchase, as simple as it might sound!