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Tips on Selling

Digital age shopping: the experience is key

Traditional stores hold an advantage over online marketplaces that retailers must learn to leverage if they are to remain competitive. FRANCESCA NICASIO discusses how to attract and retain customers through amazing in-store experiences.

Back in May 2016, daily-deal site Groupon released a video for its food delivery and reservation service Groupon Go entitled ‘Haves vs. Have-Dones’. The video compared shoppers who purchase items – ‘the haves’ – with shoppers who purchase experiences – ‘the have-dones’.

The commercial applauded the latter with the tagline, “If you’re going to own something, own the experience.”

Groupon correctly identified that consumers are increasingly shopping for experiences instead of just products.

Now this probably isn’t what jewellery retailers want to hear. After all, they’re mostly in the business of selling products but gone are the days when stores could entice shoppers with merchandise alone.

In today’s retail climate where shoppers can buy anything they desire online, brick-and-mortar merchants must offer experiences that will lure people back to the stores.

To accomplish this, retailers must think of their locations as destinations.

Let shoppers experience products

There’s no better way to showcase the merit of a product than allowing customers to test and play around with it before they buy. Allocate a space in the store where shoppers can interact with items.

"Consider holding classes or events in-store. These initiatives offer up opportunities to connect with customers as well as giving people a reason to visit – and stay – in the store"

Australian game-store franchise Good Games AU puts this into action by providing gaming areas for shoppers. In doing so, Good Game AU not only brings more people into the stores but also enriches the local communities.

“Our local community plays a fundamental part in sustaining our business,” retail manager Grady Chiu says. “Naturally, we want to give them the best experience possible! That’s why our Good Games franchises focus on providing a free-to-use gaming space for anyone who comes into the store.”

Another great example comes from Samsung. The technology company has a store in Los Angeles called Samsung Studio, which is a virtual-reality space where shoppers can try on the brand’s VR gear and get transported into a whole new world.

It also has a Design Station where visitors can design their own tank tops, tote bags or caps. The Samsung Studio even features a Home area where browsers can see how different appliances work, including a juice bar that provides free pressed juices to those who complete a juice quiz.

Hold in-store classes

Consider holding classes or events in-store. This provides opportunities to connect with customers. They also give people a reason to visit – and stay – in the store.

Jewellers have many topics on which they could hold educational classes, such as diamonds, coloured gemstones or precious metals, and stores don’t need many attendees to make the night a success.

One idea for jewellers would be a jewellery-care presentation that shows customers how to clean their jewellery and then offers cleaning kits for purchase after the demo.

Team up with designers

Elevate a store’s look, feel, and overall experience by showcasing works of art. Bonus points for displaying the works of local, independent jewellery designers!

This not only gives customers a new point of focus while they browse the shop, making their visit more memorable, but it also boosts the store’s inventory with interesting bespoke collaborations.

Welcome shoppers with ambience

The thing about destination stores is that people want to spend time there. They don’t visit destination stores to shop, though they may indeed purchase items; they visit the store because they simply want to be there.

Apple is one company that understands this well, which is why its stores now feature a new look and amenities that place a greater emphasis on hanging out.

"Figure out what customers value by developing a deeper understanding of the store’s target audience. Why do people shop here? What do they love to do when in store? What are their pain points?"

One of the most significant additions to Apple’s new store format is the generation of what the company calls a public plaza, space where people can gather to use free WiFi, browse products and enjoy demonstrations, classes and concerts.

This philosophy is central to the design of Apple’s new Melbourne flagship store that is set to open in Federation Square sometime this year.

According to Angela Ahrendts of Apple Retail, the public plaza concept means Apple stores are “not just stores”: “We want people to say ‘Hey, meet me at Apple...did you see what’s going on?’”

Creating a large plaza for concerts and other activities isn’t feasible for all retailers but the key lesson here is to build a store that shoppers will want to visit.

Help customers enjoy themselves

Importantly, retailers should see to it that customers have a good time when they’re shopping in store. Great products and customer service are a given so stores must go beyond these factors and do something that will keep customers coming back.

Figure out what customers value by developing a deeper understanding of the store’s target audience. Why do people shop here? What do they love to do when in store? What are their pain points? Use the insights from these questions to create an experience that shoppers will enjoy.

One example of this is the personalised-shopping service offered by popular department stores Myer and David Jones.

This custom service is available by appointment to shoppers seeking a higher-level of assistance or personal attention than they would otherwise receive if shopping normally. Some might want styling advice, but others might prefer a private experience.

Whatever the reason, the service is just another way that department stores are working to boost the customer experience and get shoppers into the store.

The big stores understand that there are customers who don’t necessarily enjoy buying clothes or who want an experience that makes them feel special.

One obvious way jewellers can use this strategy is in the case of engagement rings, which are primarily bought by young males who lack the knowledge and confidence to select their own styles.

An appointment service in which a sales consultant simplifies the process and works directly with a customer to find a style that’s right for their fiancée would be worth its weight in gold to both the customer, their loved one, and the store.

Final words

Retailers don’t have to decide between selling products and delivering experiences because they’re already in a great position to offer both.

Keep stocking up on products that customers love. Look to incorporate more experiential elements into store locations.

Boosting the experience will not only help sales but will ensure a store becomes known as a destination that customers love to visit. Once this happens, return visits will surely follow.

Francesca Nicasio

Contributor • Vend

Francesca Nicasio is a retail expert from Vend, a POS, inventory and customer loyalty software for merchants. Learn More:

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