4 steps to win with in-store customer experiences

March 15, 2023

CX is more important than price to drive customer loyalty, even in times like today when inflation is through the roof and consumers are shopping for value. Read the 4 steps to unlock your full CX potential.

4 steps to win with in-store customer experiences

In the battle for the hearts (and wallets) of retail consumers, a memorable customer experience (CX) is ‘the coin of the realm,’ as Gartner puts it.

According to the research company, CX is more important than price to drive customer loyalty, even in times like today when inflation is through the roof and consumers are shopping for value. And it’s more important than branding, despite the Super Bowl-sized budgets that many retailers continue to spend on brand advertising. In fact, the only thing that’s more important to a consumer’s future prospects with the retailer is the experience they have with the product itself. 

But despite all the evidence that great CX leads to better outcomes across the board (higher conversions, for instance, as well as lower price sensitivity and improved brand advocacy), few retailers have found the right formula, especially when it comes to coordinating the digital experience with the experience at the store — where, let’s not forget, more than 85% of retail sales still take place.

4 steps to a winning in-store experience

Foster hybrid commerce
Develop in-store and mobile options to meet shopper's needs

One way that consumers are gaining control over their shopping experience is by choosing where, when and how they shop. You can’t compete these days if you don’t have robust digital channels (online, mobile, social, voice, on a retail marketplace and even in the metaverse), but a brick-and-mortar store remains essential to showcase your products, satisfy impulse buyers and demonstrate your commitment to local communities. Look for ways to blend those experiences: give your customers a chance to research products while they’re at the store, for instance, or to check out with a quick scan on their smartphone.

Deliver data-driven personalization
Meet your customers' expectations with tailor-made experiences

Consumers today expect their interactions with brands and retailers to be personalized, and they’re willing to share personal data to make it happen, but data-driven personalization is a difficult balancing act. It can be underwhelming or, on the contrary, outright creepy if it’s not well orchestrated. To do it right, you need to be fully locked in on your customers’ evolving needs and interests, what new media they might be using and what their purchase journey looks like. One easy way to do this is to ask your customers directly about their needs and preferences. Then use that information to suggest products, brands and offers on the spot. It’s Marketing 101 but it bears repeating: You need to know who your customers are to meet their fast-changing expectations and add real value to their shopping experience.

Drive cross-channel consistency
Build a seamless cross-channel journey for your customers

Too many retailers believe investing in CX means adding new channels — like voice or social commerce, or a chatbot for customer service. But without consistency, a new channel only adds complexity (for your operations team) and confusion (for your customers). Before you invest in a new capability, make sure it’s compatible with your existing data and tech  infrastructure, and consistent with your cross-channel strategy. Friction is the enemy. Everything you do, from top-level branding to online and in-store promotions, sales floor interactions and customer service, needs to be telling the same story. Your job with CX is to simplify your customers’ journey.

Make every engagement memorable
Keep ahead of the competition with innovative experiences

These days, it’s not enough to deliver a good experience. That experience has to make a lasting impression to rise above the noise and inspire customers to return, refer their friends and provide glowing reviews. As CX pundit Joseph Pine wrote in an HBR article a few years ago, “shoppers need a reason to go to your store — other than buying stuff.”  Not to mention that memorable experiences give retailers a chance to truly connect with their audiences and feed invaluable data back to the first step on the list: know your customer. Yes, it can all be an incredibly virtuous circle if you let it be.

It’s been 25 years since Joseph Pine and colleagues introduced ‘the experience economy’ into the marketing vernacular. It’s been an elusive goal for all but the most deep-pocketed companies, but technology has finally caught up with those high expectations, and it’s now possible for small and medium-sized retailers to compete with their larger rivals.

Want to learn more? 
Download our Retail CX guide: How to win in a sluggish economy with stand-out customer experiences for more practical recommendations on how to transform your in-store retail experience.

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