6 ways to create an engaging in-store experience

Times are tough on the British high street. Stores are closing, footfall is down, and people are continuing to change the way they shop.

But the high street isn’t dead yet! Customers still want the convenience of grabbing something quickly from a store or trying something in person before they buy. The question is, how do you get those customers to shop with you in-store, rather than deciding to head to a competitor online?

We take a look at six ways retailers are improving the in-store experience for their customers.

1. Offer more than just what you sell

It’s not unusual to find a coffee shop inside your favourite clothing store or bookshop – it’s great way to get your customers to stay in your store for longer and continue shopping. Coffee shops are now in abundance on the high street, so how else can you attract customers into your stores? Well, it’s all about knowing who your customers are, what they need and what they want.

Primark recently opened their biggest store in the world, which spans over several floors and includes a themed café, beauty studio and barber shop. Not only is offering these extra affordable services a great way to get more footfall and encourage customers to spend hours in your store, it’s also one of the best ways to show off some of your key products. For example, in the beauty studio, customers can have their nails done with nail polish they can buy in-store, helping to increase sales and boost awareness of Primark’s other products outside of clothing.

Of course, you don’t need to add a whole extra service to keep customers coming back – even something as simple as showing your pet-loving audience you’re dog friendly by putting a sticker on the door and offering free dog treats at the till can improve customer loyalty.  

2. Employ passionate, knowledgeable in-store experts



Many consumers choose to shop in-store rather than online because they need expert advice. Electronic stores, pet shops, DIY and outdoor specialists all continue to bring in the shoppers because they want to come in and chat with someone who knows what they’re talking about. If your employees aren’t up to scratch with the latest innovation or just aren’t passionate about your products, those shoppers are going to head elsewhere.

Apple’s high street stores are known for being clean, interactive spaces where shoppers can try every product before they buy, but what really makes them successful are their employees. Known as ‘Geniuses’, their staff know the products inside-out and are true advocates for the brand.

It’s important to put some budget behind staff training and, when a new employee joins the team, make sure they have a mentor they can shadow and learn from – they’ll be an expert in your brand in no time! Don’t forget to incentivise them too, whether that’s through competitions (e.g. salesperson of the month) or commission for hitting target. This will help motivate your staff and ensure they remain passionate about helping and selling to your customers!

Most importantly, make sure your staff have time to talk to your customers. No one wants to walk around your store searching for a member of staff so they can ask a simple question. If your employees are present and helpful, those customers will return the next time they need help with a purchase.

3. Create an immersive experience

Once upon a time, shopping was an activity to look forward to, but now many of us find it a chore. Trawling stores on a sunny Saturday afternoon searching for a new sofa can be a painful experience, but it doesn’t have to be. IKEA is one brand that manages to turn what should be a dull task into a fun adventure that families actually look forward to – and it’s not just the meatballs that draw them in either!

IKEA stores take you on a tour of a large home. You can see what each object would look like in your house, pick things up, sit on chairs, sofas and beds and even play with the toys in the kids’ room section. Shoppers who ‘only came in for one thing’ are guided around the entire store and forced to walk through every section, so there’s a big chance they’ll pick up additional items they didn’t know they wanted or needed before they get to the checkout.

4. Create a ‘treasure hunt’ experience


Have you ever gone shopping and found something at the back of a shelf that was exactly what you were looking for? Or an amazing item you didn’t know you wanted for an incredible price? It feels like you’ve won a prize and it’s surprisingly addictive. That’s the tactic the likes of TK Maxx use to keep shoppers coming back to their stores. Customers never know what they’re going to find when they walk in, as stock differs between branches and changes almost weekly.

Lidl and Aldi also use this tactic with their ‘middle aisles’ which change every two or three weeks. Shoppers visit the stores to get their hands on certain items before they sell out, while others may spontaneously check out the middle aisle during their regular food shop and end up buying items they never intended to purchase.

Treasure hunt experiences can help to encourage ‘on the spot’ purchases because shoppers are worried that they may never see that item again! It doesn’t work for every retail store, but even introducing a few limited edition items can help to increase both footfall and sales.

5. Make their experience as convenient as possible

Many retailers have introduced self-checkouts in their stores to make shopping with them quicker and easier, but queuing is still part of doing your weekly shop. Amazon Go seeks to change that by removing checkouts altogether! All you need is a phone with the Amazon app; then you can enter the store, grab what you need and leave.

Changing your store this dramatically may not be possible – the number of cameras and sensors needed to detect when someone has picked up an item (and chosen whether to take it or put it back) is astronomical! Sainsbury’s, for example, is trialling a checkout-free experience which doesn’t need hundreds of cameras. The most important part? Customers can still use a traditional checkout if they want to, so they’re not alienating those who aren’t so tech-savvy.

6. Make sure your products are location relevant

It’s commonplace to tailor your stores’ ranges by location – after all, shoppers in London are going to want and need very different things to those on the Isle of Wight – but how much do you really know about your customers and are you getting it right? A high number of returns and a declining number of sales could mean you’re having a hard time understanding what your customers want.

To really know your customer, you need be collecting the right data. Tools such as Feefo’s Performance Profiling automatically identify themes in your customer feedback, so if a particular store keeps cropping up in a negative context, you can see customers are complaining and make meaningful changes they’ll care about.

Removing your checkouts or putting a hairdresser’s in your store might not be the best way to improve your customers’ shopping experience. Collecting and listening to your customer feedback will help you identify where your stores are failing to match your customers’ expectations and highlight how improvements can be made. Tools like Feefo Places allow you to collect feedback from in-store customers and measure individual store performance.

To find out more about how Feefo can help you improve your in-store experience and keep your customers coming back to your stores, get in touch with our friendly team today

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